When it comes to basic banking, you usually have two options when opening an account: a bank or a credit union. While banks and credit unions seem the same on the surface, they are actually very different in a lot of ways.
A credit union can offer a few distinct advantages over traditional banks. If you haven’t considered using one before, here are seven reasons why you should check out a credit union.
1. You’re Not Just a Customer at a Credit Union
While banks have customers (or clients), credit unions have owners. That’s right. Every person who opens an account becomes a part owner of the business. Your account actually represents a share, giving you voting rights for major decisions.
2. Better Rates and Lower Fees
Did you know that credit unions are inherently not-for-profit? It’s true.
This means that excess funds lead to lower interest rates on products like loans or higher ones for savings accounts. Plus, they don’t have the same incentive to slam you with fees, since the money doesn’t go into their pockets.
3. Improved Customer Service
In comparison to large banks, credit unions have a small customer base. This means they will give you the time and attention you need when you have questions or need help. Additionally, they often care more about your happiness, since you aren’t just one in a slew of millions of customers.
4. Better Access to Financing
In general, credit unions are more willing to work with low-income individuals than a traditional bank. This can be a great benefit, even if you are financially stable today.
Unexpected events can impact your earning potential at any time, and a credit union may be better equipped to help you if you end up in a bind. And, if you have been a long-time customer, those odds may even increase.
5. Full Range of Products
Most credit unions offer an array of financial products that rivals most banks. Credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, and many other options are often available through credit unions. In some cases, you may even be able to open an IRA with them.
Generally, this makes it easier to enjoy the better rates on nearly any product, which can be a boon for your financial future.
6. Access Shared ATMs
Most credit unions participate in shared ATM networks. This means you can use a range of ATMs without incurring any fees, as long as they belong to the program.
In some cases, you’ll find more no-cost ATMs with a credit union network than a traditional bank. You can usually research the network by going to the credit unions website and using their location search features to find options near you.
7. Technologically Capable
If you choose a credit union, you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice on the technology front. Like most banks, credit unions generally provide access to online banking, bill payment services, smartphone apps, and many other tech services you’ve come to count on.
Each credit union may have different offerings, so it’s important to research what is available before you sign up. But, in most cases, you’ll find that they have all of the technology you’d find anywhere else.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a new place to handle your money, make sure to check out credit unions. Membership requirements may vary, but nearly everyone qualifies for at least a few credit unions in their area, so it’s worth taking a look.
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