Dealing with the bank is a necessary evil in today’s world. It’s impossible to get through life without some major dealings with those huge, faceless institutions. For starters, this isn’t our grandmother’s world where we can keep our money safely tucked away under our mattress, right? So, right from the get-go, you’re almost paralyzed if you don’t establish a relationship with a bank. Not to mention, all the other necessities of modern life, like credit cards, savings accounts, mortgages, etc.
Well, guess what? There’s an alternative to dealing with the super huge, impersonal banks; credit unions to the rescue!
Credit unions offer the same services as a traditional bank, as well as providing even more benefits to their customers. Here are five great reasons to switch to a credit union right away:
Credit unions are owned and run as non-profit co-operatives. You have to apply to become a member of one and, as a member, you become a shareholder. There are many, many advantages to this.
First, you’re the owner. As a shareholder in a smaller company (most credit unions tend to keep things intimate), you get a vote on how things are run at your institution. I challenge you to call up your bank and tell them you don’t like their policies and see what kind of answer you get!
The customer service is generally better at credit unions. As previously mentioned, you own the place in a way, and membership has its privileges.
Most credit unions are set up to service a small, specific group of people, such as people living within a certain area, or people employed by a certain company. They tend to be community-minded in their policies. Some are also geared to even more specific communities of people, such as small business owners, so finding services that have your specific banking needs in mind might be easier than you think.
Taking their specific community’s needs into account, many credit unions offer free seminars and courses for their members on financial topics of interest. Perks like free ATMs and points programs are often offered as well.
As non-profits, they run things differently than banks in other ways too. For example, some positions are filled on a volunteer basis, by members, making the costs of running the business much less. And, because they’re non-profit, they’re not charging you fees every time you turn around.
As if that wasn’t enough, as a rule of thumb they generally offer very competitive rates on products like mortgages and credit cards, and not only will you make a better interest rate on your savings account, but as a shareholder, you might even receive dividend income.
One common misconception about credit unions is that your money is at risk there because your deposits aren’t insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). But you can breathe easy because in most cases the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) has you covered. This organization acts in the same way for credit unions as the FDIC does for banks.
Finally, some credit unions have a bit of a complicated application process for becoming a member, including threshold criteria you have to meet. But it is a worthwhile exercise. In most cases, once you’re a member, even if you move out of the area or change employers, you’re a member for life.
While having a bank account has become somewhat of a necessity in life, it is important to remember that you have options. When it comes to choosing who you want to hold your money for you, why not choose an institution with more benefits, nicer people, and similar goals and interests to you?
Image credits: makeyourmoneymatter.org