Where you choose to bank is one of the biggest environmental choices you make. In fact, where you put your money has a bigger impact on your carbon footprint than pretty much everything else you do. As part of Third Act’s Banking on our Future Campaign, we are sharing information and educational resources about how you can align your money with your values and find better banks, credit unions, and credit cards.

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The resources provided here are to help answer the numerous questions received by Third Act regarding how best to find and switch to banks and credit cards that don’t finance fossil fuels, as well as invest in and uplift communities and clean energy. Third Act recognizes that these choices are very personal and people have different needs and requirements. We offer this information to help raise awareness about your choices, but Third Act is legally prohibited from giving financial or investment advice – these choices are your own. Starting with opening a new credit card account is the easiest entry point.

Watch a recording of the Responsible Finance Series Event #2:  Better Banks & Credit Cards Webinar here.

We will make a bigger impact on the banks the more and more of us make the switch. So, we encourage you to first – take the Banking on Our Future pledge – and then open new, greener credit card accounts. In March 2023, we held a big national Day of Action to Stop Dirty Banks on 3.21.23 where thousands of people protested the big banks and cut up credit cards together. This Resource Guide will help you find a better bank and credit card. Don’t forget to let your old bank know why you are closing your account: because you don’t want your money to fund climate destruction!

 

Q: How can I find out if my bank is financing fossil fuels?

A: BankTrack has created this great tool where you can look up a rating for various banks on fossil fuel financing: https://bank.green/ You can also check out the ratings of 60 banks investing in climate destruction in this report from Rainforest Action Network, Banking on Climate Chaos. Here is a good resource from NerdWallet to evaluate if your bank is “greenwashing”

 

Q: What should I take into consideration before finding a better bank, credit union, and/or credit card?

A: Choosing a bank, credit union, and/or credit card is a personal decision to meet your personal financial goals, your values, and your behavior and needs. There is no “one size fits all.” This is a very detailed and self-reflective process, so please look through the overview and resources provided in Third Act’s Responsible Finance Series Event #1. Also make sure that banks and credit unions have FDIC insurance of individual accounts.

You’ll need to ask yourself questions like:

  • Do you travel a lot and need access to a large ATM network?
  • What types of accounts do you need – personal checking and savings, high-yield savings, business, CDs, money market?
  • Do you need a physical branch nearby or online-only?
  • What kinds of fees are you willing (or not willing) to pay (transfer fees, ATM fees, minimum balance requirements, foreign transaction fees)?

NerdWallet has a variety of guides and resources to help you identify your financial goals and needs, the types of bank or credit union accounts to consider, your must-have features, and more:

 

Q: How can I find a better bank, credit union, or credit card?

A: There are many search tools to help you find a better bank, credit union, or credit card. You can learn more in this recording of the Better Banks & Credit Cards webinar.

The different search tools use a variety of criteria to identify banks that don’t invest in fossil fuels, do invest in local communities, or are women-owned or minority-owned. Many of the search tools include financial institutions that have designations or certifications, including: Certified B Corporation, Global Alliance for Banking on Values membership, Fossil Free Certified, 1% for the Planet, Green America Certified, Community Reinvestment Act ratings (CRA), Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Certification. 

If you want to do your own research on local banks and credit unions, look on their website and ask their management for certifications like those listed. There are many overlaps among the financial institutions listed across these different search tools and there are some differences. And many of the sites need updating to include newer banks or banks that have made recent climate commitments and have not yet been included in the sites (for example Black-owned B-Corp local CityFirst Bank doesn’t appear on some of the sites, but is making good climate commitments). Third Act is not endorsing any particular tool or banking institution; we offer these resources to help you learn more about the choices that align with your personal needs and values.

Search tools for banks:

Search tools for credit cards:

 

Q: What are the next steps to consider in the process of Moving My Money?

A: Finding and opening a new account is Step Number One! We encourage people to start by opening a new credit card as the easiest point of entry. Another step is trying out the new accounts before transferring or changing much in your other existing accounts. Other steps include compiling a list of all of your automatic deposits and payments, and then beginning the process of changing and re-scheduling those payments, deposits, and transfers. You will need to remember all your accounts, login information and other details of these other accounts.  Please review these FAQs and considerations for closing a credit card account and how to reduce mpacts on your credit score and other tips.

The last step is to close your existing accounts with the banking institutions that are destroying our planet. When you do, it’s very important to write them a letter and tell them why you are closing your account(s) – sample letters can be found in several of the guides listed as resources below, here is one sample from Green America. Third Act is focused on building momentum for elders to join in collective action to build sustainable communities. Thousands and thousands joined the national Day of Action to Stop Dirty Banks on March 21, 2023 (read about it here). We are keeping the pressure on the banks. 

Please share with us your progress and experiences with opening new accounts by completing this brief survey

Q: I still need more help!

A: Don’t worry, more help is available. Third Act is partnering with THIS! Is What I Did! to provide tools and office hours to support people making the switch. Visit THIS! webpage to sign-up for a slot in office hours, join a support cohort, and access the worksheets.

 

Still more step-by-step guides and resources:

 

Please note: Third Act is a non-profit educational, organizing, and advocacy organization. We are not investment advisors and are legally prohibited from providing investment or financial advice. The information Third Act provides is for educational purposes. Third Act does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks, securities or other investments. Financial choices are your personal decisions.