About Green Banking
The term "Green Banking" is being heard more often today as more
Americans look for ways in which they can help the environment. While,
green banking encompasses a wide variety of banking services, many banks
are promoting their online banking services as a form of green banking.
The environment and the banking industry can both benefit if more bank
customers start to use the online banking services that are available
like an online savings account. Benefits of online banking include less
paperwork, less mail, and less driving to branch offices by bank
customers, which all have a positive impact on the environment.
Interestingly, online banking can also increase the efficiency and
profitability of a bank. A bank can lower their own costs that result
from paper overload and bulk mailing fees if more of their customer use
online banking. Green banking also can reduce the need for expensive
branch banks. So if a bank is not utilizing green banking, their
investors may have a reason to question, why not?
Banks can do much more to help the environment than just promote online banking. A truly green bank can reduce their carbon footprints by building more efficient branches, implementing more energy-efficient operational procedures, offering transportation services for their employees, and carefully screening their lending in environment-sensitive industries. Banks can also support eco-friendly groups, green lending, and raise money for local environment initiatives. Banks that go these significant lengths to be eco-friendly are a little more difficult to find than the banks that claim to be green by merely offering online services. Banks that offer rate incentives on CDs, money market accounts, savings accounts, and checking accounts for online banking help the green banking cause by rewarding online banking customers. Other green banking products include:
Green Mortgages: Green mortgages allow home buyers to add as much as an additional 15% of the price of your house into your loan for upgrades including energy-efficient windows, solar panels, or water heaters. The savings in your monthly energy bills can offset the higher monthly mortgage payments and save you money in the long run. The Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM: 41.40 ,-0.04 ,-0.10%) is a type of HUD-approved green mortgage that will credit you for your homeís energy efficiency in the mortgage itself. Banks offering these green mortgages will give qualified-HUD borrowers the opportunity to finance cost-effective, energy-saving improvements to their house. If you are undertaking an energy-saving house project, shop around for a bank that will offer a great deal on a green mortgage.
Green Credit Cards: A green credit card allows cardholders to earn rewards or points which can be redeemed for contributions to eco-friendly charitable organizations. These cards offer an excellent incentive for bank customers to use their green card for their expensive purchases. Imagine the millions of dollars that could be raised for environmental groups if green credit cards really took off.
What Can You Do?
Converting to an online savings account and mobile banking is the easiest way that you can do your part to bank green and help the environment. Green banking includes setting up direct deposit to receive your paychecks, receiving electronic statements from your bank and by paying bills online. All of these steps can drastically reduce the amount of paper produced by your bank. Online banking and mobile banking are also highly effective ways to keep track of your finances and to avoid late payment fees. Another green banking step you can take is to suggest that the company you work for sign up for a product called "Remote Deposit". This service is offered by a growing number of banks to their commercial customers. Remote deposit is the digital scanning and processing of checks, instead of having bank customer have to physically deliver each check to their bank to make a deposit. Remote deposit also allow banks to easily clear checks digitally.
Many banks claim to be be eco-friendly, but in fact do little to support environment initiatives with the money you deposit with them. Ask your local bank exactly how they support the environment before assuming their self-anointed "Green Bank" label is appropriate. Chances are good that there is a single bank in your local market that is significantly more socially-conscious of their policies than their competitors. If you can find that bank, you are doing your part to support the environment by banking with them. Finally, the more people who actively search for and support eco-friendly banks, the more competition for deposits will increase and thus raise the awareness for green banking. MoneyRates.com is supporting green banking by providing the following list of banks that are offering green banking products:
Wainwright Bank: Green Loans
Borrowers needing to finance an energy efficient home improvement can find a reduced home equity loan rate from Wainwright Bank. A 0.50% rate reduction for a regular home equity loan is available to customers who set up automatic payments from a Wainwright Bank checking accounts. Loans are fixed rate with terms of 5, 10 or 15 years. Energy efficient home improvement projects can also have some federal tax benefits.
Citizens Bank: Green$ense Rewards
The Citizens Bank Green$ense checking account will pay you ten cents every time you make a paperless transaction in your checking account. This can be a significant amount of paper saved for active bank customers who use a debit card, pay bills online, and set up automatic payments. You can earn up to $120 a year in rewards from Citizens Bank and guess what? The debit card that they send for your account is made out of recycled plastic.
Bank of Utah: Saving with a Green Account
The iSave Online Savings Account from Bank of Utah motivates you to help the environment by charging fees for any employee-assisted transaction. This can be perfect form of motivation to encourage some people to bank online. The account requires a Bank of Utah personal checking account, online Banking and eStatements. Each month only six pre-authorized, automatic, telebank or e-transfer debits are allowed. The minimum opening deposit is $100 and a $100 balance must be maintained to avoid service fees.
Green Bank: Striving to be a Totally Green Bank
This Texas-based bank has made a promise to act in environmentally and socially-responsible ways to support and strengthen the communities where they operate. Instead of only offering a few green banking products, Green Bank is adopting an eco-friendly mission for the bank from top to bottom. Products include green loans, green mortgages, green checking and green money market accounts. The Green Bank website also includes educational resources and a carbon footprint calculator. Seven Green Bank branch offices exist in the Houston and Austin area.
Community Bank: Green Certificates of Deposit
Environmentally conscious residents of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota can open a 12 Month Green Saver CD or a 24 Month Green Saver CD at Community Bank. The Green Saver CDs from Community Bank help promote the environment by utilizing online banking services. A small quarterly transfer deposit is required and additional deposits are allowed before the maturity date of a CD. The Community Bank green program is a simple way to benefit the environment through your normal banking activity.
Coulee Bank: Green Rewards Checking Accounts
The Free Rewards Checking account from Coulee Bank will pay a 3.33% APY on balances of $0 to $25,000 and .51% APY for any balance over the $25,000 if the monthly online banking qualifications are met. In addition, customers can receive up to $20 in ATM fee refunds every month. Offers like these from Coulee Bank help promote green checking by offering strong incentives to rate-sensitive bank customers to use online banking services.
Freestar Bank: The Green Account
The Green Account from Freestar Bank rewards customers who adopt green banking services like direct deposit, online banking, online bill payment, and debit card transactions. Customers who meet the monthly account requirements can earn a 4.00% APY on balances up to $25,000. By rewarding customers who use their green services, Freestar Bank is helping the environment by reducing paperwork and carbon emissions. Branch offices are located in Illinois.
First GREEN Bank: A Local Bank with a Global Mission
First GREEN Bank promotes environmental responsibility and green building by offering lower interest rates for commercial projects that meet green building certification defined by the U.S. Green Building Councilís Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Bank customers can support the green mission of the bank by opening a Be Green Money Market Account, a Be Green NOW checking account, or Renewable and Hybrid CDs. The First Green website provides real examples of the projects supported by the bank.
The original article can be found at MoneyRates.com:
Green Banking tips for environmentally conscious consumers