So you’ve done it. You’ve decided to make the leap. Sick of getting pushed around by big banks. Sick of hearing about data breaches and sketchy practices. Most of all, you’re sick of not getting the most out of your money. Bravo.
Or maybe you just want to review some other banking options.
Whatever your motivation, picking a Credit Union is a process. The most common reason people pick Credit Unions is to take advantage of better rates. Important? Yes, but there are other factors you should weigh.
To join a Credit Union, you have to meet certain requirements. 25% of Credit Unions are “community-based”, meaning you just have to live in a specific area. Others require you to have a certain career, employer, or belong to a specific organization such as a church or club.
There are over 5,000 Credit Unions in the U.S. serving over 121.4 million people in 2019, so there’s a good chance you can find one where you fit.
- UNIQUE BENEFIT: Pretty much anyone can join a federal Credit Union, but if you do qualify for one that caters towards a specific group– then go for it. You’ll have access to unique perks you won’t easily find elsewhere.
What do you want out of your bank? Do you want to build your savings? Retirement? Are you trying to hack away at debt? Figuring out your long term goals is important. Some branches will be able to fulfill your needs better than others.
If you find a Credit Union that fits, then your relationship should last longer and bear more fruit than Michael Jordan’s baseball career.
He’s doing just fine.
- UNIQUE BENEFIT: Credit Unions are flexible. Their primary directive is to serve their members. They are happy to work around personal situations to get people people where they want to go.
This is the meat of your experience. Ideally joining a Credit Union is a smart financial decision.
Across the board from auto loans to savings accounts, Credit Unions typically have better rates than banks. On a national level here’s how they compare.
|Product||CU National Average||Bank National Average|
|5 Year CD-10K||
|3 Year CD-10k||
|1 Year CD-10K||
|Money Market Account||
|30 Year Fixed Mortgage||
|15 Year Fixed-rate Mortgage||
|New Car Loan 60 Months||
Data pulled from the *National Credit Union Administration – September 2019
Don’t just take this information at face value. Compare the Credit Unions and banks in your area to get the most accurate picture.
- UNIQUE BENEFIT: Fees are also typically lower for Credit Union members–which is a complete win-win for you. You can completely pay less to save more.
Isn’t this the same as your needs? No, not quite. It’s the little things that could make your entire experience just a little bit better.
- Do they have a mobile app that makes it easy to access your account?
- Are ATM fees waived?
- Can you contact them on weekends?
- Is the customer service exceptionally good?
- Does their branch have an outstanding cookie platter?
These are all valid questions to have when making a choice. Finances are stressful enough as is. Your overall experience does matter.
UNIQUE BENEFIT: Refinancing is a huge benefit for Credit Union members. They will often exceed and beat loans you’ve acquired through other lenders.
While inside of a typical bank you might of seen a sign that says “FDIC Insured”. That means that your money is backed by the federal government and insured in case the bank fails.
The same concept applies with Credit Unions. The NCUA is a government administration that insures Credit Union members up to $250,000.
The government has a Credit Union Locator that lets you check their insurance status.
- UNIQUE BENEFIT: Credit Unions do not, by nature, try to cheat the system to increase profits because their members are the owners of the Credit Union.
Finding the right Credit Union can take a bit of research. But all of their perks and offerings are certainly worth it in the long run.
- There’s a Credit Union for everyone
- Great rates that are more competitive than most banks
- Customized and personal service
- Your money is in good hands
Evan is a personal finance writer, content manager, and comedian based out of Los Angeles, CA. He’s covered credit cards, personal loans, new advances in fintech and more.