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Let’s embrace responsible banks that pay better than average interest rates

A Chicago bank is looking for savers who care as much as about the values it embraces as the interest rates it pays.

GreenChoice Bank is a good example of a community bank that cares about the environment and the neighborhoods it serves.

This is the kind of bank you might want to consider if you’re fed up with the irresponsible greed that seems to be the driving force at so many big banks.

The difference is evident the moment you walk through the door of its minimal 3,800-square-foot headquarters located in the Green Exchange building on Chicago’s north side.

Small placards on the walls point out the space’s sustainable features, such as using paints that don’t give off organic fumes and recycled paneling that came from a Tennessee turkey coop.

The customer convenience table in lobby is made of recycled, out-of-circulation currency. Large windows provide an unnatural amount of natural light for a bank.

Like most other community banks, GreenChoice’s mission is to reinvest deposits in the neighborhood it serves. But in addition to traditional businesses, it focused on lending to sustainable businesses and real estate developments.

Steve Sherman, the bank’s chief operating officer, says it has already financed a number of green projects, including the first prefabricated green home to be permitted and built in Chicago.

Savers who choose to bank with GreenChoice won’t earn the highest possible interest rates.

But they can make a better than average return and earn much more than the big banks currently pay.

The GreenChoice checking account, for example, pays 0.80% APY and waives all service fees if the customer:

  • Opts for electronic statements.
  • Makes at least one on-line bill payment a month.
  • Completes five point-of-sale debit card transactions a month.
  • Has at least one direct deposit a month.

The return on 1-year certificate of deposit is 0.80% APY as well, which is far more than the current average return of 0.35% APY.

The bank’s 4-year CD rate is 1.50%, which beats the average return of 1.19% on 5-year CDs.

GreenChoice is continuing to work to reduce the waste that it and other banks typically produce by offering envelope-free ATM deposits and paperless processes for checks and documents.

In addition, checks made from recycled paper are available as is a debit card with a 100% recycled plastic core.

Finding green alternatives hasn’t been easy, Sherman admits, both because of offerings available and federally mandated guidelines for signatures and such.

But the bank will continue to seek out ways to increase sustainability while improving services and securing its niche in the Chicago community.

Sherman is counting on the client base growing from the increasing number of people frustrated with and seeking an alternative to big bank culture.

“There’s a bank out there that cares, that you don’t have to hate,” he says.

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