Latino-friendly credit unions aim to help persons who have historically been underserved by the banking sector in the United States. Immigrants, particularly those from Latin America, are among those who commonly shun banks. Having a bank account, on the other hand, necessitates having a safe place to hold funds and pay bills (regardless of your citizenship or immigration status).

According to the most recent survey of unbanked families conducted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 16.2 percent of unbanked Hispanic or Latino households in the United States are unbanked, which is more than double the national rate. Furthermore, roughly 30% of Latino households are underbanked, meaning they have bank accounts but also use alternative financial providers like check cashers, payday lenders, or remittance transfer services.

Banks underserve these households for a variety of reasons. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, nearly one-third of the Latino population in the United States was born outside of the country. Being from a different country can also influence people’s attitudes toward banks in general. (Banks in Argentina, for example, have a history of failing to preserve their customers’ money during economic downturns.) Language barriers, as well as a dearth of traditional forms of identification that banks accept, such as Social Security numbers, play a part.

On the other hand, credit unions, the non-profit equivalent of banks, are known for focusing on local communities. Many people have vowed to help this disadvantaged community, particularly in the recent decade.

What distinguishes Latino credit unions?

A nationwide program called Juntos Avanzamos (Together We Advance) requires participating credit unions to provide Latinos with affordable and accessible banking products. Nearly 80 credit unions are part of the program. Although credit union practices vary, the following are common:

Allowing applicants to show international identification, such as a foreign passport and a consular matrcula, as well as ID cards issued by Mexican and other governments for people who live outside their home country.

Money orders, check cashing, credit-building loans, second-chance checking, and other low-cost banking services are available.

Accepting loan applicants with alternative credit histories, such as rent or utility payment records, and accepting identification in the form of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), which are provided to foreign nationals who work in the US but do not have Social Security numbers.

Having bilingual employees and papers in both English and Spanish

Having Latinos on a credit union’s board of directors and executive team

Classes and financial coaching are used to provide financial education (for building credit, saving, buying a home, starting a business or other topics)

“What we’re doing with Juntos Avanzamos is ensuring that participating credit unions “provide relevant and transparent services,” says Pablo DeFilippi. DeFilippi is the senior vice president of membership and network engagement for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, which is leading the national implementation of Juntos Avanzamos.

Outside of the Juntos Avanzamos designation, there are several ways to find Latino-friendly credit unions. The Latino Community Credit Union in North Carolina promotes a similar goal.

“Every time we interact with a member, we take the time to clarify everything “Latino Community Credit Union’s vice president of communications and brand management, Silvia Rincón, agrees. “We understand that tourists to this country are unfamiliar with the workings of our financial institutions.”

Furthermore, one of Latino Community Credit Union’s most well-known programs, the Dreamer Loan, which covers the whole cost of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals application, is available to all of its members.