News Archive

October 22, 2018

Second annual Bank On Boulder County week highlights safe, affordable bank accounts

Bank On Boulder County program improves financial well-being by connecting community members with low-cost banking and help from personal finance professionals.

Boulder County, Colo. - Boulder County human services providers and community organizations, in partnership with banks, credit unions, and state and federal banking regulatory agencies, launched the Second Annual Bank On Boulder County Week Oct. 20-26 to highlight a program designed to improve financial well-being through safe banking.

Bank On Boulder County, a special initiative aimed at creating positive banking experiences and minimizing fees for the unbanked and underbanked, is supported by personal financial professionals who can help community members get the help they need across a range of money management skills.

To celebrate the program’s second year, this week Personal Finance Counselors and Bank On Coalition members are sharing information via social media, and presenting the program and answering questions at different sites around Boulder County, including the following:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 23 – Aspinwall Community Center, 771 Excelsior Place, Lafayette – Banking Relationships Class Partnership (10 a.m. - 12 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 23 – Sister Carmen Community Center, 655 Aspen Ridge Drive, Lafayette (5:30 - 8:30 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, Oct. 24 – The Our Center, 220 Collyer Street, Longmont (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.)
  • Thursday, Oct. 24 – Centaurus High School Parent Teacher Conferences, 10300 South Boulder Road, Lafayette (3:30 - 8 p.m.)
  • Friday, Oct. 26 – St. Vrain Hub, 515 Coffman Street, Longmont (8:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.)

“Ultimately, our goal is to help open as many doors as possible for residents so that they can build toward greater financial stability,” said Bank On Boulder County Lead and Boulder County Personal Finance Program Administrator Katie Pague. “The Boulder County Personal Finance team will work one-on-one with all Boulder County residents at no charge to help them understand why Bank On accounts save them time and money, as well as offer them guidance on a variety of other important financial topics, from creating spending plans and managing debts, to improving credit, saving for emergencies and preparing for home purchase.”

According to the 2015 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, the number one reason given by the unbanked for not having an account is: “Not enough money.” This concern is often based on the misperception by the unbanked that they would encounter high and unpredictable fees, including overdraft fees.

The Bank On Boulder County initiative is working to shift this perception by offering free or low-cost accounts that have no overdraft fees and low (or no) monthly fees and opening deposit requirements. A goal of Bank On Boulder County is to highlight a growing number of accounts that currently meet nationally-set criteria as being safe and affordable.

Bank On Boulder County’s 2018-2019 tagline is: “Tired of Paying for Your Money?”

The program urges individuals without a bank account, or those considered “underbanked” who may have an account but primarily use check-cashing and other alternative services, to explore these new banking options with a Boulder County Personal Finance Counselor or one of the many official Bank On Champions located in human service agencies throughout the county.

Bank On Counselors and Champions are professionals trained to help clients navigate their options and identify which of seven Bank On account options might work best for them. Providing a variety of accounts with professional guidance is meant to assist clients who may have tried banking before, or have avoided banking in the past because they believe they do not have the proper identification or enough money to open an account.

Counselors and Champions are unbiased sources who help a broad range of clients understand how banking can support their efforts to become more financially independent and reach their goals.

The seven Bank On-approved accounts are: First National Bank’s Access Debit account, Key Bank’s Hassle-Free account, Wells Fargo’s EasyPay card, Chase Bank’s Liquid card, Bank of America’s Safe Balance account, U.S Bank’s Safe Debit Account and Independent Bank’s IntroChecking Account.

Since January 2017, a 40-person coalition comprised of representatives from human services organizations and a variety of local, regional, state and national financial institutions have met to address this issue and identify accounts that have the best potential for inviting the estimated 5,000 unbanked and 15,000 underbanked households to consider Bank On Boulder County’s options to keep their money safe, avoid spending time and money cashing checks, and maximize on-line features like direct deposit.

Counselors and Champions will help them understand how these options can save them time and money by avoiding late fees through automatic payments and prioritizing rent and utility payments.

This year, Bank On Boulder County received an award from the National Association of Counties in the Human Services category. Other successes include organizations like the Inn Between of Longmont, including incentivizing residents to open and use one of the Bank On accounts to avoid the time and expense of money orders to pay their rent; an expansion of the Champions network including representatives from organizations like Community Food Share and Nederland Human Services HUB; and the addition of two more accounts from which residents can choose.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to have a safe and affordable way to manage their money,” said Frank Alexander, Director of the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services. “Bank On Boulder County is helping ensure as many people as possible can access the growing range of good banking options available to them, and we encourage our neighbors to come out to one of the Bank On events this week to find out more.”

Bank On Boulder County Week runs Oct. 20 - 26, 2018. The coalition is continually accepting applications from financial institutions and human services organizations that want to be a community partner for the initiative. To request more information, please email info@BankOnBoulderCounty.com.

For more information on the program, visit http://BankOnBoulderCounty.com.