Alternatives to the Big 5 Banks
Commercial banks, like the Big 5, are for-profit institutions owned by their shareholders. This means that they operate with the intention of turning a profit for those shareholders and are often traded on the stock market. As with most for-profit corporations, the more shares someone owns, the greater influence they have over the decisions that are made by the bank.
Credit Unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, designed to serve their members. They are member owned. This means that any depositor is a member and gets an equal vote in board member elections regardless of the amount of their deposit.
Both credit unions and commercial banks are safe, government-backed options offering savings and checking accounts, credit and debit cards, mutual funds, loans, investments and financial planning guidance.
What are some of the benefits of banking with a credit union?
Member owned: As stated above, credit unions are member owned, and every depositor is given an equal vote. Therefore, unlike with commercial banks, your influence on the decisions being made are not dependent on how much money you can afford to invest. Credit unions offer deeper democracy in their practices, as they practice one-member-one-vote, instead of the one-share-one-vote system of commercialized banks.
Higher interest rates: In general banking with a credit union will yield higher interest rates on deposits, and will have lower interest rates on loans. This is because the financial cooperative’s interest is in maximizing benefits for members, rather than turning a profit for shareholders.
Transparency: Unlike the big 5, credit unions are more than willing to offer transparency. If you inquire about another credit union NOT included on the list below, please contact us! We want to hear about your experience! We will continue to provide an updated list of the least heavily fossil fueled credit unions available.
What options are available to me?
The following list is compiled from Climate Pledge Collective (CPC), B Lab, Bank.Green and our own research. All listed financial institutions offer federal or provincial deposit insurance on chequing and savings accounts.