How do we bank better in Minnesota?


Unlike large banks, community banks and credit unions are tied to our local interests and needs. Community banks invest primarily in the local economy; credit unions answer directly to their members and don’t pass on profits to wealthy shareholders. Moving our money to these smaller institutions puts our dollars to work in more responsible ways.

Picking the Best Alternative

While credit unions and community banks are both good options, there are some differences. Credit unions are not-for-profit, but they might have more limited services than your current big bank. They also cater to specific populations, like people who work for certain companies or who live in a certain county. Community banks are for-profit institutions, but they generally offer all the same services as a large bank.

These questions can help you consider your options:

  • Do you need a local bank, or can you bank out of state?*

    • Are you comfortable handling all your finances online?

    • Can you rely on mobile banking, or do you often deposit checks that are too large to deposit with an app?

    • Will there be local ATM fees with an out-of-state bank?

  • What special services do you need?

    • Do you need a secured credit card to start building good credit?

    • Are you interested in any specific investment services?

    • Will you need access to business or education loans?

  • Do you need a brick-and-mortar or ATM location in a particular area or within a certain range of home/work?

*If you are able to bank out of state, the Blackout Coalition provides information about Black-owned banks across the country (there aren’t currently any in Minnesota). These banks are a great choice for supporting racial equality in the finance sector.

There are many alternatives to big banks in the Twin Cities area - the right one for you will depend on your needs and priorities. Here are some of the major options to begin your search:

  • Sunrise Banks  Certified by the U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution

  • Wings Financial  Large credit union with a high number of brick-and-mortar locations

  • Affinity Plus  Provides financial education resources through the Affinity Plus Foundation

  • Firefly Credit Union  Hosts a popular annual Community Shred event

  • Spire Federal  Winner of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award 2013-16

You can explore these sites for more information about credit unions and community banks, and to search for full lists of local options: