The Flyer’s Bianca Phillips reports on a City of Memphis plan to make it easier for low-income Memphians to find a use a bank that won’t suck out their money due to fees:
Memphian Autumn Jones hasn’t had a bank account in years, and she doesn’t want one.
“One bounced check totally ruined all my finances, and now I think it’s cheaper not to have an account,” the 31-year-old Berclair resident said. “If you don’t put your money into the bank, you can’t spend money you don’t have.”
Though Jones is perfectly happy without a bank account, a new city-backed program is aimed at bringing people like her back into the mainstream banking system. Bank On Memphis, modeled after programs in San Francisco and Boston, encourages banks and credit unions to develop low- or no-fee checking and savings accounts for citizens without bank accounts.
Consider the following:
Approximately 96,000 people in the Memphis metro area do not have a banking account. Those people spend an estimated $800 to $1,200 a year on check-cashing and money-order fees.
“Check-cashing places charge about 4 to 5 percent of a payroll check, so that may be $25 for a $500 check,” said Keith Turbett, community development manager for Suntrust, one of Bank On Memphis’ participating banks. “For somebody earning at the low end of the pay scale, that’s eating into some grocery money.”
“The number-one reason people are unbanked seems to be that they don’t believe they have enough money,” Neale said. “Along with that, a lot of people don’t trust banks or some people have had bad experiences with banks. They may have had an overdraft and gotten thrown out of the system, and there’s some bad vibes there.”
Bringing Banks Where There Are None