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I continue to focus on divestment from the worst of the banks as a clear way we can all fight against the right wing control of the American economy. The more people who "move their money" the harder we hit the predatory banks.

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 refi

nanced 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.

Return to Mole's Consumer Advice Page.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm waiting for the DKos Visa card . (5+ / 0-)

    It's everywhere you want to blog !
    Don't ever leave or not leave home without it !

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Wed May 02, 2012 at 09:29:52 PM PDT

  •  I have a Citi card (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Odysseus

    that I would love to replace on general principles but I'm reluctant for two reasons.

    One, they guaranteed when I opened it, it must be 20 years ago or more, that there would never be an annual fee. I keep expecting them to find some way to worm out of it, but so far there never has been.

    When you take out a new card with no annual fee, does it usually stay that way?

    Second, they offer Virtual Account Numbers, single-use alias numbers that I make heavy use of for online shopping. My other credit card doesn't have them. Do people know of other banks that offer something like this?

    Citi raised my interest rate to 29.9 a few years ago when I inadvertently paid late one month (without asking me, they closed my account and opened a new one when they had a security breach, and I didn't think - nor did they remind me - to change my automatic payment in time). After three years they agreed to reduce it to 19.9, but no lower. It really pisses me off because I have a 750 credit score and don't owe a dime in the world. Not a big deal, though - I make sure I always pay it off every month.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Wed May 02, 2012 at 09:40:32 PM PDT

    •  My Credit Union Card is c. 8% nt (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mole333, Nada Lemming, Creosote, Odysseus

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed May 02, 2012 at 09:42:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Annual fee (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, denise b, Creosote

      Never, and I mean NEVER accept a card with an annual fee. I have never had to pay an annual fee. They want our business so drop anyone who mentions "annual fee" in ANY context other than "waived."

      I am not familiar with "Virtual Account Numbers," so cannot advise there.

      The "29.9" rate is insane. Keep in mind interest rates for regular bank accounts are under 1%, so if they are charging that high you can probably do better. I have recently been told by a lawyer that anything over 10% is considered "userous."

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Wed May 02, 2012 at 09:50:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  terms very widely. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My oldest card is a Discover card, opened in the early 90s.  It has no annual fee, and allows me Virtual Account numbers.  Discover is known to have high merchant fees and some of the other fees (which I never get charged) on the card are higher than other vendors.

      Chase is the only bank that I have had institute an annual fee after the card was already issued.  There is no reason to ever accept a card with an annual fee.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Wed May 02, 2012 at 10:53:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have never... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I have never accepted an annual fee. If someone wants to charge me an annual fee they can kiss my ass. And I tell them that.

        Companies don't like me. I expect them to kowtow to me, not the other way around. This is currently coming out as Verizon is trying to strong arm its way into the building where I am on the co-op board. We ASKED them to wire us for FIOS and they responded by THREATENING us. So now we are backing off. Eventually we will let them wire our building, but we went from enthusiastic to actually talking with Time Warner to see if they want to make us a better offer. Never thought I'd look at Time Warner Cable as the underdog deserving of my support, but Verizon has managed to get me seeing it that way!

        FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

        by mole333 on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:10:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Our bank card (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, mole333

    is with the local credit union we've been with for more than a dozen years.  I'd be happy to ditch the big banks as part of the current (and very welcome) movement, but they already drove me crazy enough to do it a long time ago!

    •  Great (0+ / 0-)

      For my family's purposes local credit unions don't cut we do Astoria, USAA and TD Bank. All of which are conservative and have issues, but are infinitely better than Chase, Citibank, Bank of America or Wells Fargo. (We do local shopping with our local Food Co-op...but with banking we still needed a more national and global option).

      The key is to get the hell out of Chase, Citibank, Bank of America or Wells Fargo. They are the four key predators and no one who subscribes to DKos values should do business with them. As far as I am aware, ALMOST any other financial institution is better than these four predators.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:15:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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