The best community banks in Canberra

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Peter Grady

Bendigo Community Bank mobile lender, Peter Grady. Photo: Region Media.

Are you looking for an alternative to banking with the big four? How about a more competitive rate on your home loan? Or perhaps you just want the interest you pay on your mortgage to go back into the local economy?

If any of the above ring true, switching to a not-for-profit community bank could be the right move for you.

Community banks focus on local banking. And while they offer all the banking services you’d expect from a bigger bank, they also provide employment opportunities for local people, keep money in the community, and are a source of revenue for important community projects.

What makes a great community bank?

Like traditional banks, every not-for-profit community bank is different. It can be helpful to consider the following before deciding which one is best for you:

  • Customer service. Because of their size and focus on community, local banks are in a great position to provide personalised service. You might even deal with the same person every time you visit the branch. Look for a community bank that makes you feel welcome and is interested in cultivating a long-term relationship.
  • Convenience. If you will need to make frequent visits to a branch, opt for a community bank that is close to your home or workplace.
  • Community involvement. A community bank should have a near-permanent presence in your local community. It is involved with local sporting teams? Does it throw its support behind community events?
  • Fees, rates and services. Not-for-profit community banks may have lower fees and rates. Do your research to make sure they have the products and services you need, and that their rates are competitive.

The best community banks in Canberra

Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 19 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Beyond Bank

Beyond Bank is a 100% customer owned bank with branches in Belconnen, Gungahlin, Civic, Woden, Tuggeranong and Queanbeyan.

When it comes to giving back to the local community, Beyond Bank invests nine percent of net profit into its community partnerships and programs. Staff receive two days per year to volunteer in the community, and the bank contributes over $650,000 through its Community Reward Program.

Beyond Bank is small enough to offer great customer service, but large enough to provide the peace of mind that you're doing business with a trusted bank.

Bendigo Bank

Since 2002, Bendigo Bank's community bank branches in Wanniassa, Calwell, Curtin and Jerrabomberra have returned over $1.3 million to local clubs, groups and organisations. Nationwide, its community bank branches have returned over $200 million in contributions to over 300 communities.

All local community bank branches offer a full range of competitive banking products, delivered with personalised service. Products include home loans, equipment finance, insurance, financial planning, superannuation, credit cards, personal loans, business loans, investment accounts, foreign exchange, term deposits and everyday accounts.

Customer Bruce shared his experience with Bendigo Bank's Curtin branch on Google Reviews: "Great little branch. Very friendly, very helpful. Never have to wait long for service. Surprising cheap insurance products too."

Service One Alliance Bank

Service One Alliance Bank provides people in the ACT and South Eastern NSW with access to equitable financial services. Its banking products and services are designed for personal and small business banking needs, and include loans, savings and transaction accounts, investment products and insurance cover.

Service One Alliance Bank follows a social enterprise banking model that is all about doing good for its members and community.

It has branches in Belconnen, Civic, Deakin, Gungahlin, Queanbeyan, Tuggeranong and Woden.

Your experience with community banks in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the community banks listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

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Bendigo Bank is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. It pays dividends to it’s shareholders, just the same as the big 4 corporate banks. It certainly invests in local communities, but it’s not clear how it could be described as a not-for-profit.

At one time, Service One Alliance Bank was customer owned but it’s now been effectively merged with Bendigo Bank.

The most important reason for choosing credit unions, mutual banks and building societies is they are customer owned, meaning they put their customers first.

What does that mean? Simply, the mutual structure means that credit unions, mutual banks and building societies are not publicly-listed companies and so, unlike the publicly-listed banks, don’t have the pressure to maximise profits to pay external shareholders.

Instead, they put their profits back into better rates, fairer fees, responsible lending and outstanding customer service.

Beyond Bank is 100% customer owned, as are Credit Union Australia and Bank Australia. All three have branches in Canberra.

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