Financial wellness requires healthy banking relationships. Credit unions are an integral part of the financial wellness roadmap.
I’m a member of a few credit unions and a promoter of the financial cooperative movement. Additionally, credit unions have supported my mission through our partnerships and sponsorship of the Road to Financial Wellness events.
I’ve compiled a long list consisting of 101 reasons to be a credit union member. I will consider you a champ if you get through the list.
There are two things I want to highlight about credit unions. Firstly, credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions offering many of the same services as banks. Secondly, all credit unions were founded with the same financial cooperative principles, but each operates differently based on their unique team, culture, and mission statement.
There are many credit unions to choose from and you’re more likely to qualify for quite a few memberships.
Do your homework and ask around, but definitely consider joining a credit union or doing more with your cooperative. You can find a credit union through asmarterchoice.org.
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-approvals.
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. Sponsors community programs.
43. Participates in local chambers and networking groups.
44. Hosts events and workshops.
45. Wants you to attend the Annual Meeting.
46. Can 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. 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 offering 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 payday lending cycle.
72. Loan officers who will go over your credit reports.
73. Financial recovery specialist who are 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. Want 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 stuff about credit unions
91. The first credit union in Manchester, New Hampshire founded in 1909.
92. Federal Credit Union Act 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, Reach, Chocolate Bayou, Aspire, Wings, Seven Seventeen and Red Canoe.
99. Credit unions are international.
100. Offer discounts from 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 as a current member of multiple credit unions.
Credit unions are by no means perfect and some have argued have lost their way. I want to reiterate the need to vet your credit union choice. Find a credit union offering the products you need, aligns with your values, and supports your goals.
Now, I want to read your reasons why you’re a member of your credit union. What makes them special to you? Can you add to the list?