8 Attractive Perks of a Credit Union Membership

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KEY POINTS

  • Credit unions exist to support its members rather than shareholders.
  • Credit union membership can save you money.
  • As a credit union member, you're not just a number.

Sometimes, a place just works for you.

For most of my adult life, I've banked at a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. I may not have enjoyed paying for checks or having a monthly maintenance fee deducted from my checking account, but that's the way things were done and I did not realize I had options.

Through the years, I've watched small banks be absorbed into larger national banks, and each time my husband and I moved, there have been fewer banks to choose from.

It wasn't until about 12 years ago that I walked into a credit union to see what they were about. Once I joined, I never looked back. If you're not a credit union member, here are eight perks I think you'd appreciate, too.

1. A credit union works for you

Credit unions offer the same services as traditional banks, including checking accounts, savings accounts, personal loans, mortgages, investment accounts, and financial advice. However, while banks are owned by shareholders, credit unions are owned by their members. Once you join, you become a member-owner.

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A credit union exists to support people like you, not a group of shareholders. Rather than paying profits to shareholders, the money goes right back to the customers. That's often in the form of lower interest rates and fees.

As a nonprofit organization, exempt from federal income tax, credit unions are in a better position to help you meet your financial goals.

2. You can be as involved or uninvolved as you prefer

Credit unions are run by an elected volunteer board of directors. As a member, you get to vote on who you want to make decisions on behalf of the credit union. In fact, if you'd like to serve on the board of directors, you can throw your name in the hat when election time rolls around.

It doesn't matter if you have $1 million in the bank or $100, your voice is as important as anyone else's.

3. You're not just a number

When you walk into a credit union, you belong. It's difficult to explain this "atmosphere," but walking into a credit union to do business feels very different.

For example, the last time we purchased a car, we were able to run across town and sit down with a loan officer immediately. She didn't grill us about our financial status because she had our entire credit union history on a screen in front of her.

It has never taken us so little time to secure a car loan. There was no sales pitch, just a "What can I do for you?"

4. You're more likely to be approved for a loan

The fact that you're not just a number at a credit union leads me to perk number four. Let's say the transmission on your car dies a sudden, cruel death. You don't have the cash to make repairs and need to take out a short-term loan. Even if your credit score is not ideal, you have a better chance of loan approval when you're borrowing from your own credit union.

A loan officer has access to more than your credit score. They can tell from your history whether you've had the same job for a while, make regular deposits, don't overdraw your bank account, and otherwise handle your credit union business wisely. They also have more flexibility when it comes to the approval process.

5. You'll land better rates

Remember how a credit union is exempt from federal taxes and has no shareholders to share profits with? The money earned on things like auto loans, mortgages, and personal loans are shared with members like you through lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on savings accounts and investments.

6. You won't be eaten alive by fees

Like most credit unions, mine charges no ongoing banking fees. I don't pay a monthly maintenance fee and didn't even have to pay for my first book of checks.

7. You'll know who's servicing your loan

We moved six months ago and purchased a new home. Weeks after closing on the house, we received a letter from the lender saying they'd sold the loan to another bank. It's not that I especially care who services our mortgage, but it's nice to know that when you take a loan out with a credit union they keep the loan in-house. That way, if you have any questions you can ask people you've come to know and trust.

8. Your money is protected

Just as bank accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), credit union accounts are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an independent federal agency that insures federal credit unions. As long as a credit union has NCUA coverage, you're insured for at least $250,000.

Ultimately, credit unions are part of your community. They're involved in volunteer efforts, sponsorships, community cleanups, and much more. It's all about building the community you live in, and that begins with making your financial life a little easier.

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Rating image, 4.00 out of 5 stars.
4.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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