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101 Reasons Why You Must Join a Credit Union

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions offering many of the same services as banks.

I’m a member of a few credit unions and support the financial cooperative movement. As a disclosure, many credit unions have supported my mission by sponsoring the Road to Financial Wellness events.

I’ve compiled a list of 101 reasons to be a credit union member. You can learn how to join a credit union here.

I want to spotlight two things about credit unions.

First, credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions offering many of the same services as banks. Second, all credit unions were founded with the same financial cooperative principles, but each operates differently based on its unique team, culture, and mission statement.

Here you go…

Credit Unions and Your Financial Well-being

1. Credit unions are financial cooperatives.
2. Offer banking products and services.
3. Not-for-profit business model.
4. Democratically controlled by its members.
5. You’re a member-owner, not a customer.
6. Voluntary and open membership.
7. Members share a common bond.
8. Your family members can become members.
8. A volunteer Board of Directors.
10. As a member, you can run for a Board seat.

Competitive products and services

11. Little to no-fee accounts and services.
12. Better rates on deposit accounts.
13. Lower minimum balance requirements.
14. Lower rates on loans.
15. Personalize loan service.
16. Offers Visa or Mastercard debit cards.
17. Many offer no-fee balance transfers.
18. Easy transfers from credit lines to checking accounts.
19. Auto loan pre-approval.
20. Very competitive auto loan rates.

Member service as a member-owner

21. You get a member number, not just an account number.
22. Personal greetings because you’re a member.
23. Provide member service, not lip service.
24. A motive to help members, not increase stockholder profits.
25. Profits reinvested back and not distributed as stockholder dividends.
26. Answers to members, not stockholders.
25. Flexible fee refund policy.
26. Less banking jargon or confusing terms.
27. High tech – invests in online mobile services.
28. High touch – a priority to get to know you.
29. Multigenerational banking relationships.
30. Staff is typically members too.

Convenience is a priority

31. Direct deposit capability.
32. Automated savings transfers.
33. Connected accounts and cross-member transfers.
34. Offer convenient online and mobile access.
35. Access to online statements.
36. Text message alerts and controls.
37. Online and telephone loan applications.
38. 24-hour telephone support.
39. Pay your loans and bills online.
40. Deposit checks using your smartphone.

Help each other and partner together

31. Many cooperate under a shared branch agreement.
32. Access your accounts with other credit unions through networks.
33. Cash access through thousands of ATMs on a shared network.
34. Share resources and services.
35. Invest together in developing new tools.
36. Sponsor events as a team.
37. Big credit unions lend support to smaller operations.
38. Collaborate on projects.
39. Socially share each other’s articles.
40. Compete with each other to better the industry.

Invested in communities

41. Provides financial education sessions.
42. Sponsor community programs.
43. Participates in local chambers and networking groups.
44. Hosts events and workshops.
45. Wants you to attend the Annual Meeting.
46. Access to speak with the CEO and other executive management.
47. Community and member feedback are taken seriously.
48. Attends employee health and wellness fairs.
49. Provide banking services to underserved communities.
50. Educates students in high school and college classrooms.

Supports your financial wellbeing

51. Not offer a loan that can put you under.
52. Wants to work with you through financial hardships.
53. Offers free credit counseling services.
54. Access to financial experts.
55. It provides insurance products to protect your legacy.
56. Websites with financial education.
57. Provides financial education workshops
58. Offers financial calculators and tools
59. Creates programs to improve your financial wellbeing.
60. Shares financial knowledge on social media.

Offer credit that helps you achieve goals

61. Credit cards without penalty APRs.
62. Credit cards offer the same interest rate on purchases and cash advances.
63. Credit cards with a rewards program.
64. Credit cards with no balance transfer or cash advance fees.
65. Credit cards used for overdraft protection.
66. Mortgages to buy your first home or your rental property.
67. Home equity loans and lines of credit.
68. Recreational vehicle loans.
69. Motorcycle loans.
70. Student loans to help you achieve a life goal.

Changing the status quo

71. Wants to end the payday lending cycle.
72. Loan officers who will go over your credit reports.
73. Financial recovery specialists who want to work with you.
74. Offer loan skip payments.
75. Loan payment deferrals and modifications.
76. Secured credit cards to establish credit.
77. Loan programs to improve credit scores.
78. Provide credit scores through online banking.
79. Not afraid to find ways to say “yes.”
80. Access to people.

Staff are fun and engaging

81. Take member concerns seriously.
82. Dress up during holidays.
83. Make an effort to know your name.
84. Offer services that reflect your needs, not sales goal.
85. Give hugs to members.
86. Wear jeans on Friday.
87. Genuinely wants to know how your day is going.
88. Spend time getting to know you.
89. Volunteer their time for community events.
90. Management return phone calls.

Some more interesting things about credit unions

91. The first credit union in Manchester, New Hampshire founded in 1909.
92. Federal Credit Union Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 to “promote thrift and thwart usury.”
93. Federal tax-exemption status.
94. But pay other types of taxes.
95. No tax dollars have been used to bail out credit unions.
96. Regulated and held to high standards to mitigate risk.
97. Not a single penny of federally insured deposits (NCUA) has been lost.
98. Cool names like Navy Federal, Lake Trust, and Blue.
99. Credit unions are international.
100. Offer discounts on cell service, tax preparation, cars, theme parks, and more.

101. Once a member, always a member.

I want to congratulate you if you’re reading this sentence. You made it!  

This list is based on personal experiences as a former credit union employee and a current credit union member.

Ready to join a credit union?

How to Make the Switch From a Bank to a Credit Union

All credit unions were founded with the same principles of people before profit. However, each credit union has a unique culture, style, and operation. Some will suit you better than others.

In my situation, a larger credit union with 24-hour support and a mobile app is essential. I don’t need a local branch. I just need to be able to bank within the app. Some credit unions do this better than others. You should also consider the following:

  • Products offered based on products needed.
  • Services such as branch locations, ATM access, and online and mobile features are needed.
  • Compare fees on accounts and services.
  • Determine how much technology or personal service you require.

Steps to Make The Switch to a Credit Union

Read this before making the switch for a smoother transition.

Step 1: Evaluate your current financial institution’s services. 

What type of relationship do you have with them? What fees are you paying? What do you like and absolutely hate? If you’re sticking around with a big bank because they are convenient but haven’t stepped into a branch or used an ATM in months, it might be time to look for cheaper alternatives.

Step 2: Write down what you want

It’s important to know what you need, such as a checking account and debit card, to make purchases and pay bills. But also know about the types of services you want, like access to ATMs, online banking, mobile apps, and bill payment services you actually use.

Step 3: Find Your CU

Once you know your services and the services you need, it’s time to shop around. Ask your employer, church, family, and friends about their credit union. You can find a credit union phroogal.com.

Step 4: Open your accounts

Start with a checking account and debit card. Ensure you know the new routing numbers and debit card information.

Step 5: Change your direct deposits and transfers

Change your direct deposit information with payroll and other companies that send you payments (e.g., side gig apps). Then, go online and input the new banking information for automatic payments and withdrawals.

Step 6: Download your statements

Store your three years of financial statements from your former bank. If you need to refer back to them for tax reasons, you have them saved.

Step 7: Keep your old bank accounts for now

It’s recommended that you keep the account open until you’ve successfully transitioned your direct deposit and automatic withdrawals. This can usually take 30-60 days. Note periodic withdrawals that happen once a quarter or annually.

Remember, many financial institutions understand switching from one bank to another is difficult. They count on our unwillingness to change and simply stay put. This is why we continue to pay the fees and use subpar products and services. You have options, and it’s important to use them.

Learn how to join a credit union.

Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and founder of phroogal.com and thesmilelifestyle.com. His purpose to help others live their best lives through experiential and purposeful living. Jason is also a certified yoga teacher and breathwork specialist and has traveled to over 40 countries.

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