Beautiful african american woman using atm machine and a credit card while withdrawing the money

Banking Options for the Traditionally Underserved

Depending on your family background, economic status, location, and other factors, banking or having a bank account may have played an integral role in your life. If not, you may have been exposed to other financial operations such as “Sou-Sou” or people saving by hiding money under their mattresses.

This seemingly innocuous everyday life experience can be foundational in one’s stewardship of their finances, particularly within the African American and other minority communities. According to the most recent Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC) survey, thirty-six percent (36%) of blacks are unbanked. The survey also reveals that more than twenty-one (21%) of single-mother households are unbanked.

This data is troubling given that banking today has evolved significantly with mobile banking and other technological advances since the days of having a piggy bank at home. At the same time, recent bank failures have rattled the system and made consumers increasingly wary of financial institutions’ stability, prompting a surge in demand for alternative forms of investments and savings. But what are banks offering today and which ones are worthy of your consideration.

Banked and Underbanked

The Library of Congress defines an unbanked person as one without a banking account in an FDIC institution. When you think about the definition, it’s quite revealing. It suggests that there are institutions not covered under FDIC insurance, and that people bank with such institutions. An underbanked person has a banking account but regularly uses Alternative Financial Sources such as a check cashing facility and payday loan sources to execute financial transactions.

Family and Kids

If you are a family with children and want them to start banking, saving, and investing, Ally Bank may be a worthy consideration. Considering features such as no minimum deposit requirement and no fees, from an investment standpoint, parents have the option to open custodial accounts for their children and a Certificate of Deposit if they are under eighteen. What’s intriguing is the absence of penalties for early withdrawals from the Certificate of Deposit, which currently yields 4.25%.

Internet Banks

Depending on your level of banking needs and how you usually use your bank, internet banks may be the best thing for you. An internet bank, also known as an online bank or virtual bank, is a financial institution that operates primarily or solely online, without any physical branch locations.

Internet banks provide services such as opening checking and savings accounts, loans, and credit cards, transferring funds. They can also help manage investments through their websites or mobile applications. Customers can conduct various banking activities electronically, often with competitive interest rates and lower fees compared to traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Perhaps you can begin by asking yourself when was the last time you entered your bank and what services you require? The other question worthy of consideration is whether you can have a banker’s relationship with an Internet bank. This question is important because, during Covid-19, businesses and individuals who had a personal relationship with a banker fared better than those who did not.

All that said, some of the best online banks worthy of investigation are Quontic Bank, TIAA Bank, and Axis Bank. Of the three banks, Quontic offers Bitcoin rewards for your checking account. I have not found banks offering that benefit, so this makes them different in the cash rewards space and use of your debit card purchases. The bank pays 1.5% back in Bitcoin rewards as of July 2023. TIAA Bank offers a nine month basic Certificate of Deposit (CD) paying a 5% interest rate on a minimum of $1,000 CD.  AXIS Bank offers services to several groups and the broadest range of individual needs. For example, Axis offers specialized services tailored to customers aged thirteen to seventeen, and those above fifty-five can avail themselves of complimentary personal checks as well as reimbursement of up to eight dollars for ATM fees.

Regular Banks

Citizens Bank, spanning across New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest with 1,100 branches stands out for its provision of complimentary financial planning services to all customers. This is particularly exciting as financial planning, crucial for wealth accumulation, remains inaccessible to many due to affordability constraints. Offering this service can significantly bridge the gap between generations. The other low-hanging fruit is that you can avoid monthly bank fees by simply making one deposit per month. While big banks want you to use your debit card several times each month, connect your account to your direct deposit, and several other requirements to avoid monthly fees; Citizens Bank One Deposit Checking account eliminates these cumbersome obligations altogether.

When considering your banking options and needs, you should not rely so much on the yield in your checking or saving accounts unless you are just embarking on your financial journey. Instead, emphasis should be placed on the array of banking services each bank offers along with potential investment and or business services accounts. Your traditional checking and savings account will not make you rich or wealthy!


Today’s What’s Up is about the ETFs and Crypto. The Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC) has been overruled by a federal court when it comes to the establishment of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund. This ruling could create opportunities for other new bitcoin ETFs to join the market. That could be good news for you as an investor. And that’s what’s up!

Ruthven R. Phillip, Esq., is a tax attorney, Stewardship and Philanthropy Ministry Assistant, and CEO of Give2Getrich, LLC. Give2Get Rich, LLC 2023. All Rights Reserved. Any distribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited.

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