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City Survey: Montgomery, Alabama

a southern city with a community-oriented mindset

During our trip through the Deep South with Hope Credit Union and Faith & Money Network, we visited a handful of cities, each with a unique economic landscape but facing a similar set of problems. We’d already written city surveys on several of these places, but we knew less about Montgomery, AL, and were impressed with how many in the community have banded together to strengthen their local economies. Many cities in the South suffer from disinvestment, gentrification, and high poverty levels, and Montgomery was no exception. It’s also no coincidence that many of these cities, including the ones we visited, have a majority Black population that is often concentrated in the most underinvested areas by the legacy of racism.

Traditional banking tends to ignore these problems, seeing these neighborhoods and families as “risky” investments, but there are a handful of Better Banking Options in Montgomery striving to operate differently. We’ve researched these options and compiled the best ones into a list, but we encourage you to do your own research to determine which one best fills your financial needs. Hope Credit Union is the one we know most intimately, and feel the most comfortable recommending to residents, but reading the list below is a great starting point to finding a Better Banking Option that works for you.

Carol M. Highsmith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Hope Credit Union is one of our favorite banking institutions to recommend. They have widespread network and resources, modern online technologies, and a stellar reputation for investing in at-risk communities to foster real economic growth. They started out working in the Mississippi delta, partnering with struggling, existing banks and credit unions in towns with few lending options besides predatory payday loans. Although they began in rural areas, they have grown tremendously and since proven their commitment to disinvested and isolated urban neighborhoods, as well. They have two branches in Montgomery. They’re a CDFI, a Black-majority Minority Depository Institution (MDI), and score the best in our metric when you look up Montgomery in our search engine.

Metro City Bank is the second Better Banking Option that is listed when you look up Montgomery in our search engine, due mostly to their significant quality lending. Headquartered in Doraville, GA, Metro City is a regional bank with 19 branches across the south. They’ve earned an MDI designation as an Asian-majority bank, meaning either the ownership or clientele is majority Asian. While they don’t have much info on their website about their history or mission, their lending statistics are impressive enough that we feel comfortable recommending this bank regardless. They have one branch located in Montgomery.

Alabama One Credit Union was chartered originally in 1951 as the TRW Federal Credit Union, but has adapted their name as they made acquisitions all over the state. Now serving 62 of the 67 counties in Alabama, they have limited eligibility requirements (like most credit unions), but extend membership to most of those living and working in Alabama. To make sure you are eligible, check out the eligibility page of their website. They’ve qualified as an LICU (low-income credit union), unsurprising considering that the area they serve is primarily low-income. However, their quality lending is significant enough for them to score third best in our metric when you look up Montgomery in our search engine. They have one branch in Montgomery, but we’d recommend them to anyone living or working in their eligible counties, as they also offer online and mobile banking.

Liberty Bank & Trust Co. is the sixth option that comes up when you look up Montgomery in our search engine, even though just looking at their score in our metric they wouldn’t necessarily be impressive. We recommend them in this article primarily because of their commitment to providing banking products for and by Black people. They were chartered in the 1970s in New Orleans, but have since grown significantly with nine total branches and nearly $1 billion in assets, making them one of the biggest Black-owned banks in the country. As well as being a designated MDI, they’re also a CDFI and offer online and mobile banking, so anyone wanting to invest in cities in the Deep South can make deposits there. They have one branch in Montgomery.

Merchants & Farmers Bank is the seventh Better Banking Option that comes up when you look up Montgomery in our search engine. Although their lending statistics are not particularly impressive, we suspect this is because farm lending isn’t able to be accounted for in our metric. They have more than a century’s worth of experience serving residents of West Alabama, and have earned a CDFI designation doing so. Although they don’t actually have a branch in Montgomery, just one 20 miles away in Prattville, they offer online and mobile banking options, and are a fantastic choice for anyone looking to support rural residents and farmers in Alabama.

As you can clearly see, there’s simply no excuse for not supporting one of these Better Banking Options if you’re in the Montgomery area. With all the options available, you’re sure to find one that works best for your personal banking needs.

Your deposits can be doing so much more than just sitting in a checking or savings account at one of the mega-banks. They can be put to work making your community a better place, and if your bank isn’t specifically lending to those most vulnerable in our communities they’re not doing enough. A simple change you can make, that will make a huge difference, is to move your money to one of the above Better Banking Options TODAY. It’s such a small thing that will greatly support all the work your community members are doing to make your city a better place.


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