More and more people these days are switching from a big bank to a credit union, and for good reason. With instances of fraud on the rise and with reasonable interest rates harder to come by, the appeal of a member-owned, not-for-profit organization speaks for itself. If you’re thinking of choosing a credit union, it’s important to consider a few key elements to determine which one is best for you.
Personal Affiliations and Memberships
Most of these institutions are associated with specific organizations, and you often have to be a member to join. However, this is not always as restrictive as it sounds. While some require that their members be a part of a specific religious group or professional organization, qualifications for others are as simple as maintaining a residence in a specific area. Many members consider this an advantage, as the benefits and services offered by these organizations generally cater to members’ interests and concerns. For example, a religiously affiliated credit union might provide tuition assistance for members whose children attend faith-based schools. It’s important to explore what’s available in your area to see what fits you and make sure that you meet their criteria.
Loans and Credit Cards
One of the more well-known benefits of using a credit union is that they often offer more competitive interest rates on credit cards and loans, as well as a wider range of borrowing options. Some of the types of loans that are offered include: vehicle, home, personal, student, and specialty loans (based on the organization). In addition to providing reasonable rates, unions also provide dividends to their members in the event of an income surplus.
While almost every lending institution is current with modern technology these days, it’s important to make sure that the one you’re considering offers the amenities you expect. If online banking, bill pay, and mobile banking are must-haves for you, check to ensure the organization provides those services. Additionally, take a look at the location or locations and see how many are in your area. Inquire as to whether the locations include a lobby, drive-up, ATM, or a combination of the three, and ask about the surcharge for using ATMs at other facilities. It’s become common now for smaller institutions to offer surcharge-free use of ATMs that bear specific logos in order to make accessing your accounts easier, so make sure to ask if the one you’re thinking of joining offers such a program.
With a growing level of distrust for corporate, for-profit organizations, especially those that deal with personal finances, it’s no surprise that credit union memberships are steadily growing. As non-profit organizations owned by their members, they each offer their own brand of services and features, from specialty loans to scholarship programs, and boast competitive interest rates on loans and credit cards. As the trend toward making the switch continues, most offer all of the amenities you’d rely on from a big bank, only without the concerns, which makes handling your finances convenient, safe, and satisfying.