The $707 million Altura Credit Union in Riverside, Calif., has announced the launch of the Reliance Checking Account, which aims to set members on a path to financial recovery.
Intended for individuals with financial histories that disqualify them from opening a checking account, the Reliance Checking Account comes with a Visa debit card that looks similar to other payment cards issued by the credit union, so as not to raise red flags or embarrass cardholders who may be experiencing financial problems, Altura CU said.
The account also includes access to a financial education and support program.
Once Reliance Checking Account holders display six months’ worth of positive account activity and have paid off any outstanding checking account-related debt, as reported by ChexSystems, they will become eligible for Altura CU’s Renew Checking Account, which has no minimum balance requirement, includes the ability to write personal checks and provides ATM deposit access.
After six months of positive activity with the Renew Checking Account, members can obtain any Altura CU checking account, the credit union said.
“Credit unions were created to do exactly this kind of thing,” said Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Binkley. “This checking account will have an immediate impact on people’s lives. It will make managing the financial portion of their lives a lot easier and provide a path to a traditional account.”
Altura CU serves nearly 95,000 members in a Southern California desert region known as the Inland Empire, where the unemployment rate is at 12.8%, nearly two points higher than California’s rate of 10.7%, and foreclosure rates are among the highest in the state and the fifth highest in the nation, according to the credit union.
“The Inland Empire, where Altura is headquartered, has been slow to bounce back from the economic downturn,” Binkley said. “Many local residents have been left with credit problems and a negative credit history. Traditional banks turn them away, not just for loans, but also when applying to open a checking or savings account.”