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City Survey: Birmingham

A mining town turned metropolis in Alabama with some great Better Banking Options for area residents

Alabama, along with its neighbors Louisiana and Mississippi, is considered to be part of the “Deep South,” a term first used to refer to the states which were most dependent on plantations and slavery. Because of this dependence and the resulting culture, these states have had the hardest time shedding reconstruction-era legislation. The states’ Black residents have suffered from this legacy, making it more important than ever to support Black communities through your deposits. Even through these hardships, Black Americans have continued to make homes and raise families in the Deep South, and many of the cities in the region are majority Black.

Birmingham, only formed after the Civil War as a mining town, is one of these cities, and it serves as an economic and cultural hub for the state. Birmingham is also a banking center for the area, and although there are many banks headquartered there, only a few are either Black-owned or have a majority Black membership. In addition, however, there are still some community banks and credit unions doing good work in Black neighborhoods.

Today, we’ll feature a few Better Banking Options in this historic southern city which are making a difference in low-income and POC communities. Although the membership eligibility for these institutions is limited, Birmingham-area residents can make a positive impact in their community by making a deposit in one of these banks or credit unions.

- Alamerica Bank has been serving the greater Birmingham metro area since 2000. Founded by local community members, they opened the bank to offer personalized banking services, specializing in small business lending. This is still evident in their lending portfolio, as a significant chunk of their assets are still devoted to small business lending. Their one branch and headquarters is located in the Five Points South neighborhood, and you have to visit them in person to open an account. Regardless, they’re fantastic Better Banking Option for those in the city looking for their deposits to make a positive impact in Black communities. In addition to their small business lending, Alamerica also makes a significant amount of housing loans, which make up 30% of their lending.

- 1st Resource Credit Union doesn’t have much information on their site about their history or their mission, but they’ve earned a LICU designation, meaning they do a significant amount of lending in low-income neighborhoods. They’re also a Minority Credit Union (MCU), although we’re unsure of what minority group they’re majority owned by. They’re the sixth banking option that comes up when you look up Birmingham in our search engine, and one of their two locations is in a low-income census tract. 1st Resource accepts anyone living or working in Birmingham or Montgomery, where their second location is located.

- Sixth Avenue Baptist Federal Credit Union is an unusual Better Banking Option for us to feature, as it is specifically for members of the church and their immediate family members. However, if you do happen to have a relative associated with the church, this is a great place to keep your deposits. Sixth Avenue Baptist is a church with a long and important history in the Birmingham, which you can read all about on their website. For example, they hosted three of the four funerals for the girls killed in the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Although they don’t do a ton of quality lending, this may be because they do more alternative and small loans, as well as providing essential banking services to their clergy. They’re designated as both an LICU and a MCU.

These are just a few Better Banking Options in the Metro Birmingham area, and you can find more by looking up Birmingham in our search engine. There are several great credit unions who extend eligibility to those working certain professions or at certain companies in particular. However, it’s clear that regardless of where you choose to bank in Birmingham, your deposits could be doing a lot more good in one of these banks or credit unions than in the typical mega bank, especially if you’re looking to finically support Black communities. We encourage you to make a difference with your deposits and move your money today!


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