Review: Amalgamated Bank

One of the first questions when moving your money out of fossil fuels is – where should I bank? At Fossil Free California, our Move Your Money team has answered this question by suggesting a variety of different banks that unlike big Wall St. banks, generally avoid financing fossil fuel projects and instead make loans for vehicles and houses. When I was looking to move my money to a climate-friendly bank, I chose Amalgamated Bank.

Amalgamated Bank is one of the growing number of primarily online banks. The bank also stands out for its focus on environmental responsibility.


100% Online Banking. From starting my account, to transferring my existing account money in, to investment advice and opening credit cards, Amalgamated allowed me to bank entirely online. This was a huge plus for me as I don’t know whether I’ll be living in the same state in 10 years so having a bank that can flex with my location felt important. 

Availability of a Local Branch. Amalgamated Bank is planning to have a branch in San Francisco, but the opening has been delayed due to COVID-19. It is comforting to know that a physical branch will open near me soon. One benefit of this is that I will be more often connected to a California-based service representative. 

Additional Bank Accounts. Amalgamated Bank Credit cards are issued through Visa and managed by Elan Financial Services. You can apply for a credit card through the Amalgamated website, but you will receive your card and manage payments through Elan’s website instead. This in my mind is a downside as I have not found as much information on what Elan Financial Services’ investments or social policies are. As a relatively young person who has 5 years of credit history, I did struggle a little bit to get a credit card. A few lessons to share: all of their notifications about approval are mailed via the post office. I actually received my credit card before I got the approval statement. I’m not sure if this is because I was opening the card at the same time as we have had such terrible mail slow downs, or if it is a service issue. That being said, if you apply for a card and get no confirmation email, you didn’t do it wrong. I slowed the process accidentally by reapplying assuming the form didn’t work when I didn’t receive a confirmation email. 
Since having an account open here are a few things that I have noticed. 
Ordering checks and depositing checks has been an easy process. I ordered checkbooks through the online portal and they were shipped promptly. 
I can also deposit checks through the app. When I want to deposit a larger check than $3000 which is my limit, I can call their customer service line and request a one time extension of my deposit limit. It took about 24 hours for the request to be processed, but they left a message on my phone letting me know when the request was completed. Personally, I find that far easier than going to a bank branch to deposit checks. 
The customer service calls generally only have a 5 minute wait or less (sometimes no wait) so it’s not daunting. 
Their security is solid in my mind. They do multi layer verification and have limited password attempts. I appreciate that given that it’s my bank account, although it was slightly frustrating once when I misentered my own password too many times on a Friday night and had to wait till Monday to call in for my account to be unlocked. You can also only call from the phone number associated with your account to make changes to your account. Once again a slight inconvenience that I am glad is there for security purposes. 
I believed I had a fraud charge on my account (it turned out to be a purchase I had made), but it allowed me to see the process for reporting fraud charges. I called and they promptly reissued my debt card. They also emailed me a form to fill out listing the charge that I believed was in error. I realized at this point my mistake, so I cannot attest to how they respond beyond this point.
In mailing debit cards they send the debit card and the pin number 2-3 days apart. When you activate your debit card (using the phone associated with the account), they give the option to set your own PIN number as well. Openint addition

Generally, I’ve been very pleased with the bank. I don’t have any loans with them so I cannot speak to that experience. I also have not set up autopay with them, but it looks pretty straight forward. I hope this isn’t an overwhelming detail. 


Limited customer service hours. Naively, I assumed that online banking customer service would have unlimited hours similar to websites. Unfortunately this is not the case, phone customer service operates on East Coast time. While a slight inconvenience while living on the West Coast, ultimately this has not been an issue.

Opening an account. This was the one time that I wished that I had a physical banking location to work with. It was a slow process to open the account as each step needed a few days for verification meaning that it took about a week to get through the steps. From my actual time though, it was about 30-45 minutes total – very doable. If you are opening a joint account this time is nearly doubled because it does not seem that you can open the account with two names from the start. Rather I had to open the account under my name and go through the verification process then add my partner to the account afterwards and repeat the verification steps. Generally, a minor inconvenience.

Limited local investing.

Further Considerations I Cannot Speak to:

Dedicated Bankers. I don’t have a large account so I have not requested a dedicated banker, so I cannot speak to this. That being said, I’ve had no issues with the service that I’ve received so far.