Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month! We couldn’t have picked a better time to celebrate credit unions. Why, you might ask? Credit unions always have a community focus. That’s true, but a handful specialize in serving the Hispanic and Latino community, which contains a disproportionate number of unbanked and low-income residents, and hard-working immigrants. It also contains a disproportionate number of people who aren’t proficient in English and may feel marginalized by traditional banks. As any credit union member will tell you, real reform starts with empowerment. Keep reading to see NerdWallet’s picks for Latino-focused credit unions. These are some of the many credit unions across the country working hard to help people help themselves with bilingual services, ESL financial literacy workshops, affordable loans, and much more.
Best Original Curriculum – Latino Community Credit Union (Durham, NC)
Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU) serves the predominantly Latino immigrant population in Durham, North Carolina. They regularly make headlines and are widely considered to be a national model for organizations that provide financial services to immigrant communities. In conjunction with the National Endowment for Financial Education, they developed their own bilingual money management curriculum, Building a Better Future. It includes information on banking, budgeting, saving, buying a car or a house, and paying taxes. Best of all, the whole program is available online for anyone to access. They regularly encourage ESL teachers to download and use it in their classrooms. Anyone can become a member of LCCU with a minimum deposit of $10 to open a savings account and a tax-deductible $20 membership fee to the Latino Community Development Center.
Best Alternative Financial Services – Comunidad Latina Federal Credit Union (Santa Ana, CA)
Comunidad Latina Federal Credit Union specializes in serving the low income and Latino communities in Santa Ana. By their estimates, roughly half the city’s Latino population is unbanked. In response, they offer services to assist credit union members and non-members alike: low-cost check cashing services, financial counseling and money transfers. They also offer fabulous auto and legal fee loan programs for people who only have a consular ID and an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). And, if someone is turned down for a loan, Comunidad Latina Federal Credit Union will offer tools to help them boost their credit score and hopefully qualify for a loan in the future. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Santa Ana.
Best Remittance Program – Bethex Federal Credit Union (Bronx, NY)
Bethex Federal Credit Union serves the low-income and immigrant population in New York City. Many of their members regularly send money internationally to friends and family. To make it easier and more affordable, they started a remittance program back in 2005. For those of you not in the know, remittance is the term for the transaction that occurs when a foreign worker sends money home. Not many banks have money remittance programs because they’re often considered unprofitable. Bethex Federal Credit Union’s remittance department, by contrast, employs 10 people! Membership is open to all low-to-moderate-income residents in the City of New York.
Best Kids Account – OAS Staff Federal Credit Union (Washington, DC)
OAS Staff Federal Credit Union was originally created to serve employees of the Organization of American States (OAS). Much like the United Nations, the OAS works to promote peace, justice, solidarity and independence within the 35 independent states and countries of North, South and Central America. OAS Staff Federal Credit Union’s Yuri’s Kids Club account, for kids 12 and younger, earns an interest rate to rival mom or dad’s: 0.50% APY. The account requires a low $5 opening deposit, making it easily accessible. If you’d like to help your child save, you can also set up an automatic monthly transfer from another account. OAS Staff Federal Credit Union membership is open to employees of the Organization of American States and other eligible organizations, as well as family of eligible members. Please see their member services page for complete details and other ways to qualify.
Did we miss anyone?
Know another great Latino-focused credit union? Send us an email and tell us about them.
Image credit: Robert Valadez