1. You want to support small, local, US businesses — The New Rules Project reported in 2010 that the 20 biggest banks “devote only 18 percent of their commercial loan portfolios to small business,” despite the clear need to spur small-business growth to jump-start our economy.
2. You don’t want your money paid out as a fat bonus for a CEO – While most of us continue to feel the effects of the 2008 global economic downturn, mega-bank CEOs as a group have seen their pay skyrocket back to 2008 levels and higher. The same banks that took billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts promptly rewarded their highest-paid employees with bonuses. The Financial Times reports that big-bank CEO pay rose 36 percent in 2010, while average workers in private industry saw their pay rise only 2 percent.
3. You don’t want to fund climate change. — A recent report from BankTrack.org entitled Climate Killers finds that JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Bank of America led banks worldwide in financing coal since 2005.
4. You want to support banks whose practices won’t cause another foreclosure crisis – Unlike conventional banks that lent billions in unsound and predatory sub-prime mortgages that their borrowers couldn’t repay, community banks and credit unions are long-time experts at responsible lending, especially to lower-income homeowners.
5. You expect your money to be invested in your community, not used for speculation – Community investing banks and credit unions turn your deposits into loans and investments for other homeowners and small businesses in your community. By contrast, conventional banks devote huge segments of their portfolios to speculative trading and financial tricks that may turn a profit (for the bank), but add risk to the system, and provide no benefit for their customers.
6. You want your money to help communities that are hard-hit. – Whether they are bearing the brunt of a hurricane, earthquake, or other natural disaster – or a human-caused disaster like the financial meltdown – communities in need can turn to community investing institutions for assistance. Community investing banks and credit unions help to rebuild damaged communities and support social services for those in need.
7. You’re sick of hidden charges and high fees – Bank of America’s plan to charge $5 per month for debit cards was met with such backlash last fall that they rescinded the plan, but that’s no reason to stick with a bank that wants to charge you to use your own money. Find a community bank or credit union with policies you like better.
8. You want to be a name, not a number. To a mega-bank you are just one of millions of accountholders. By contrast, community investing banks and credit unions will treat you as a person and a valued member of their community.
9. You can find comparable services with none of the big-bank drawbacks – All personal holdings in banks and credit unions covered by FDIC or NCUA insurance are insured up to $250,000 per type of account. You’re not taking on any additional risk by moving to a greener bank, you’re just putting your money to work for your community.
10. You want to join a growing movement for good— Funds invested in all community investing institutions grew from $5 billion in assets to nearly $40 billion over the last decade. Much of that growth was driven by consumers like yourself. As more and more Americans continue to pull their money from the mega-banks to invest in local communities, together we can rebuild a greener American economy