FINANCIAL/BANKING LITERACY ASSISTANCE FOR LATINO AMERICANS

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1 FINANCIAL/BANKING LITERACY ASSISTANCE FOR LATINO AMERICANS

2 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT Safety Carrying cash on payday or keeping large amounts of money at home or in your wallet can make you a target for robbery and assault. Convenience You can get money quickly and easily. When making purchases at the supermarket, department store, or pharmacy, you can use a debit card or automated teller machine (ATM) card instead of carrying cash or writing checks. It is the same as using cash, but safer and more convenient. With an ATM card, you have access to your money from cash machines around the world. Also, if your employer uses a direct deposit service, your check could be automatically deposited into your account which saves you time and allows you quicker access to your money. Funds electronically deposited in your account are available sooner than if you deposited a check. Money You may be spending a lot of money every year in fees for cashing checks or buying money orders to pay your bills. A checking account will help you better control your budget and will allow you to pay bills directly without having to use money orders or cash. However if you would like to cash a check, banks and credit unions usually charge less than private companies to cash their customer s checks. Security Financial institutions in America run under strict federal and state laws and are regulated far more than banks in other countries. This leads to greater security for any money you entrust to a financial institution to safeguard. In fact, money that you deposit into your account, up to $100,000, is insured. This means that if for some reason the bank closes and cannot give its customers the money they had in the bank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will reimburse up to $100,000 in losses to the customer. You can tell a bank is FDIC insured by the FDIC logo (usually on the door as you enter or on the counter near the tellers). Similarly, most credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Financial Future Building a relationship with a bank will establish a record of paying bills, can save you money, and is necessary for getting a loan. Banks and credit unions make loans for cars, homes, and many other items but first, you have to establish credit. Opening a checking or savings account is the first step to establishing credit and being able to obtain loans for the purchase of a home, car, or other necessities. Education Saving for your children s college education is the most important thing you can do to help them secure a bright future! Banks and credit unions offer options for financing a college education and savings accounts to help you make that goal a reality.

3 IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED TO OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT Most banks will need your photo identification, usually a driver s license, and your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)*. If you are not a U.S. citizen, some banks accept other forms of photo identification. Other forms of identification may include: a birth certificate and current Matricula Consular card, a resident alien card (Green Card) or valid passport. You should ask the bank you want to use what their identification they require. If you do not have the identification they request, look around for another bank who will accept the identification you have. * Most banks will help their customers complete the necessary paperwork to get an ITIN, if you do not already have one. Also, if eligible, contact your country s consulate to apply for a Matricula Consular card. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CHECKING AND SAVINGS ACCOUNT? Checking A checking account is an account that lets you write checks or use an ATM car to pay bills or to buy goods. The financial institution takes the money from your account and pays it to the person named on the check. Your financial institution will send you a monthly record (called a bank statement) of all deposits and withdrawals made. Financial institutions usually have more than one type of checking account. Discuss with someone at the bank which account is best suited to your needs. It is also important to ask what, if any, minimum deposit is required to open a checking account. Savings A savings account is an account that always earns interest. You cannot write checks on a savings account. As with a checking account, the bank will help you keep track of your account by sending you statements. Some financial institutions require that you maintain a minimum balance in your savings account. Make sure that you ask what the requirement is at your bank. If you fail to maintain the minimum deposit in your savings account, the bank will charge you a fee. YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES IN OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT KNOW what, if any, costs are involved in the account you choose. READ any materials the bank gives you. They should have materials available in Spanish. If you have any questions, ask someone at the bank. RESPECT the account. Having a checking account is valuable. PROTECT your money. Don t give out personal information about your account. KEEP detailed records of all transactions and UPDATE your records frequently to accurately reflect how much money is in your account. DO NOT SPEND MORE MONEY THAN YOU HAVE. If you do, the bank will charge you a fee. Multiple violations may lead the bank to close your account.

4 THE ADVANTAGES OF AN ATM / DEBIT CARD Leave the checkbook at home! Most people write very few checks anymore; rather, they use their debit card to pay for products and services. A debit card is a plastic card, provided by your bank, sometimes called a check card or an ATM card. The ATM/debit card has a MasterCard or Visa logo and a magnetic strip on the back that allows you to pay for goods and services at stores and other businesses that accept MasterCard and Visa credit cards. When you use a debit card, the money comes out of your account immediately. Normally, debit cards also function as an ATM card. Therefore, the same card will allow you to make purchases, without writing a check or requiring that you carry cash, and also to make deposits to or withdrawals from your checking account at ATMs. This card is very versatile and can be used to access ATMs at any branch of your bank or any store which accepts MasterCard or Visa across the country. In other words, your debit card can be used for purchases at the mall or online, to pay bills, to buy dinner, or to make withdrawals or deposits at your bank s ATMs. Your ATM card can also be used outside the United States. If you were to send your ATM card and your personal identification number (PIN) to a relative in your home country, they could withdraw money from your account there, without you having to pay a fee to send it to them. HOW HOW TO USE AN AUTOMATIC TELLER MACHINE (ATM) TO USE AN AUTOMATIC TELLER MACHINE (ATM) 1) Insert ATM card into the machine and enter your Personal Identification Number (PIN). 2) Select the type of transaction you wish to make and follow the instructions that appear on the screen. 3) Take your card, the cash (if you made a withdrawal), and your receipt. 4) Record your transaction in your check registry. * Most ATM machines have a Spanish-language option and will provide instructions in Spanish. BASIC BANKING TERMS Deposit A deposit is money you add to your account. This may be done by using an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) which most likely will have a Spanish-language option, or through a transaction inside the bank. When you add money to your account, you must fill out a deposit slip or deposit envelope, which will identify your account (as you will have to provide your account number) and tells the bank how much money you are adding to your account. Withdrawal When you make a withdrawal, you are taking money from your bank account. You do this by writing a check, giving the teller a withdrawal slip, or by using the ATM. Be cautious, a withdrawal slip looks very similar to a deposit slip. Be sure to verify the wording at the top to make sure you are using the correct slip. If you have any doubts, ask a teller at the bank for assistance. Balance Balance is the amount of money you have in your bank account. In order to determine the correct balance, you must add in all deposits and subtract all withdrawals (including ATM and

5 debit card transactions, as well as all checks that you have written). It is important to know your current balance so that you do not try and withdraw more money than you have. If you overdraw or bounce a check - meaning there was not enough money in your account to cover the withdrawals (checks or debits) you will be charged a fee. Fees Financial institutions charge you fees for different services. For example, some banks charge a small monthly maintenance fee. In addition, there are penalty fees if you misuse your account, such as overdraft charges, also called Insufficient Fund (NSF) charges, for writing a check when there were not enough funds in the account to cover the amount. This is known as bouncing a check. Interest Interest is the extra money in your account that the bank pays you for keeping your money at that bank. One of the advantages of having a deposit account is the interest that you earn. Typically, checking accounts are non-interest bearing accounts. Whereas, savings accounts normally do offer a small interest rate to customers. As any interest received must be reported as income on your income tax returns, a SSN or ITIN number is usually required to open an interest-bearing account. Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) This is a computer where you can make deposits or withdraw money. You can also transfer money from one account to another. These machines are available 24-hours a day. To use the ATM, you must have an ATM card issued by the bank and a personal identification number (PIN). A PIN is a special password (set of numbers, usually 4 numbers) to use your debit or ATM card. The PIN is used for security purposes, so no one else can access your account. You can use the ATM for many services, but there might be a fee involved. Most people use the Automatic Teller Machines to get cash from their account across the state. Although your ATM card can be used to get money at another bank s ATM, you will be charged an additional fee for using it. Generally, you can only make deposits at your bank s ATM. Debit Card A debit card is a plastic card sometimes called a Check Card that has either a MasterCard or Visa logo. Your debit card can be used to buy goods and services at stores and other businesses that accept MasterCard or Visa credit cards. When you use a debit card, the money comes out of your bank account immediately. Direct Deposit With direct deposit, your paycheck or benefit check is electronically transferred and directly deposited into your account. The amount of money is immediately available. Some banks will not charge monthly fees if direct deposit is used. This is one method your employer or a government agency might choose to give you your paycheck or benefits check.

6 WRITING A CHECK Here are some tips for correctly writing a check: Your name 123 Your address Your phone Number Date: PAY to the order of: $$ Dollars Your Financial Institution s Name 3 Memo Complete the following areas when writing a check: 1. Date: Write the date 2. Pay to the Order of: Write the name of the person or company to whom you will give the check. 3. $$: Write the amount due in numbers, such as $ Dollars: Write the amount of the check in words, such as nineteen and 75/100. If you do not know English, ask someone you trust, like a bank employee, to assist you in writing this portion correctly. 5. Memo: This section is optional. You can use this area to remind yourself why you wrote the check (for example, January s rent or car repairs ) or to record the account number of the bill you are paying. 6. Signature line: sign your name here. Check writing tips: 1. ALWAYS use an ink pen; never use a pencil. 2. Write clearly. 3. Record each check in your check register. 4. Be sure to sign the check.

7 CHECK REGISTER Record each time you put money into your account, write a check, or take money out of your account using an ATM machine or make purchases using your ATM/debit card Check Number Date Description of Transaction Payment or Debit Fee Deposit Balance 1. Check Number: If you are writing a check, record the check number in this column. Otherwise, leave it blank. 2. Date: Record the date you wrote the check, made a deposit, took money out (made a withdrawal) or were charged a service fee. 3. Description of the Transaction: Record items such as who you wrote the check to, reason for the deposit, or the location of the withdrawal (such as ATM or store location). 4. Payment or Debit: Record the dollar amount of checks written, ATM withdrawals or debit card transactions. 5. Fee: Record any fees charged, such as a monthly maintenance or service fee. 6. Deposit: Record any deposits or credits made to your account. 7. Balance: Add all deposits or credits and subtract any fees, payments or other debits to your account.

8 Special thanks to Compass Bank for providing the funding for the printing of these materials. These materials were created by and remain the property of: Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, Inc. P.O. Box 4864 Montgomery, AL We greatly appreciate the time and assistance of Mariela Mendez of Banco Hispano, Gregorio Estrella of Banco del Sol and R. Troy Teague, for their contributions in translating these materials. Recognition is provided for the FDIC s Money Smart materials, portions of which are reproduced herein.

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