Taking on Wall Street Every Day
Green America (which I have been associated with since they were Co-op America) has some resources:
* The basics about socially responsible investing
* How to retire with one million dollars in a just and sustainable world
* How your savings and checking accounts can build healthy communities through community investing
And I have some suggestions below.
We are all angry at the big banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and Citibank because of their predatory lending practices, terrible customer service and greedy, selfish politics and business practices. Basically these banks and similar ones have screwed working class and middle class Americans and made a profit off our suffering. Then they got bailed out with OUR tax money when their lousy business practices and predatory lending hit them in the ass. These banks got us into the economic mess we are in and the CEOs of these banks took America to the cleaners and have been reaping the profits while we suffer foreclosures and tough times. And the fees they charge are insane!
That is why I advocate breaking ties with these big predatory banks and finding alternatives. I personally have been divesting myself of these big bad banks like Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank and instead switching my mortgage, accounts and credit cards to USAA (which only works with Veterans and their families), TD Bank (a large bank that actually has excellent customer service and did not engage in predatory lending), and local credit unions. I have particularly liked TD Bank who refinanced my mortgage at a much better rate and much simpler than the big bad banks.
But so far my wife and I still haven't been able to get rid of all our Chase and Bank of America credit cards. Paying off the debt is tough, but we are working on it. But I would like to find better credit cards to use.
Well, Green America has some suggestions I would like to pass on to you.
Cards Connected to Better Banks
There are socially responsible banks and credit unions that exemplify responsible lending practices—as well as community investing institutions that take the social mission one step further by also investing in low-income populations.
Wainwright Bank Visa Cards (fees and rates vary): Wainwright, a Boston-based bank with a tradition of “socially progressive” banking, offers six different Visa credit cards with different rates and terms. All of these cards are issued and managed by Elan, a financial services company. Steven F. Young, senior vice president at Wainwright, says they “chose Elan because we felt their consumer practices were best.”
Permaculture Credit Union’s (PCU) Visa card (13% apr, no annual fee): Based in New Mexico, PCU is committed to Earth-friendly and socially responsible loans and investments. PCU’s card is issued by the Illinois Credit Union League to anyone, whether or not they are a PCU account holder, though applicants should mention they are “affiliated” with Permaculture Credit Union.
ReDirect Visa (15.15% apr, no annual fee): The ReDirect card is issued by Washington state’s ShoreBank Pacific.Depositors fuel the bank’s lending programs, which enable sustainable community development. ShoreBank Pacific issues the card by way of TCM, which is owned by ICBA Bancard, a subsidiary of the Independent Community Bankers of America.
Your card fees support ShoreBank Pacific’s community investing mission, and half of the card’s proceeds go toward reducing CO2 emissions through Sustainable Travel International’s “MyClimate” high-quality offsets. In addition to a conventional rewards program, the card also earns cardholders discounts at the sustainable businesses listed in regional “ReDirect Guides” for Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins, CO; Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA; and Salt Lake City/Park City, UT. Those businesses that offer Internet purchasing will extend ReDirect discounts to any cardholder. There’s no need to have a ShoreBank Pacific account to apply.
Salmon Nation Visa (15.15% apr, no annual fee): This card, also from ShoreBank Pacific, directs a percentage of its income to growing a community of citizens that practice environmental stewardship of “Salmon Nation,” a bio-region stretching from Alaska to Oregon where wild salmon live. Like the ReDirect card, Salmon Nation Visa isn’t benefiting a mega-bank, and you don’t need a ShoreBank Pacific account to apply.
The Loop Card (11.99% apr, no annual fee): A Visa from Albina Community Bank in Oregon. Profits from this Visa from Oregon’s Albina Community Bank not only support Albina, but one percent of every purchase goes to Portland’s neighborhoods, funding education, health, social services, environment, the arts, or economic development projects. You do not have to have an account with Albina to get the card, and it is not connected to a mega-bank.
Shorebank’s Elan Visa Consumer Card (variable apr, no annual fee): ShoreBank, in the Midwest, is a community development and environmental bank that issues a credit card available to anyone nationwide through Elan, the same company servicing Wainright Bank’s cards, at a rate determined by your credit history.
Self-Help credit union cards (9.95–12.95% apr, no annual fee): Self-Help, headquartered in North Carolina, works in communities traditionally underserved by conventional financial institutions. It offers Classic and Platinum Visa credit cards to members, and through online banking, anyone nationwide can become an account holder and apply. The cards are issued by Self-Help, a community development bank.
For those purchases you make by credit card, using one of these best-option cards can make your charges a force for good.
One of my goals this year is to switch from my current credit cards, which are still mega-bank linked, to one or two of these cards. I hope you will all join my in making the switch.
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