ConsumerWatch: New Financial Options For The ‘Unbanked’

SAN JOSE (CBS 5) – With more and more Bay Area residents relying on check cashing places for their financial services, rather than traditional banks, several non-profit organizations are stepping up to provide low-cost services for those living paycheck-to-paycheck.

San Jose’s Micro Branch Credit Union on Story Road is one example. It looks like a check cashing place from the outside, and director Haydee Moreno said that’s intentional.

“We start the relationship with most of our clients with the check cashing services,” Moreno told ConsumerWatch.

Moreno hopes once clients see the low-fees for check cashing, as well as the bright décor and friendly service, they’ll consider opening a savings or checking account.

The non-profit Micro Branch’s services are designed for people living paycheck to paycheck, with “bottom of the market” fees and lower-than-average minimum balances for checking and savings accounts. Debit cards are set up so that customers cannot incur overdraft fees.

“Our goal is to serve the needs of working families today around the services they already use and offer them a path of financial stability tomorrow,” Moreno said.

Oakland’s Community Check Cashing is another option. The nation’s only non-profit check cashing service charges opened last year. Most checks can be cashed for a fee equivalent to 1% of the amount of the check. It also offers free financial counseling.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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