The Credit Union Advantage

The Credit Union Advantage from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

When you’re looking to switch banks, the options out there can seem disheartening. It often seems like the bigger the bank is, the more it tries to take advantage of its customers. One major national bank is under continuing scrutiny after revealing that its employees created numerous fake accounts in the names of real customers, all because they were trying to meet insanely high sales quotas. You don’t want a bank that sees you as just another way to meet a quota.

So it’s time to stop banking with the big names. In fact, it’s time to stop banking with banks at all and move your accounts over to a local credit union.

A credit union is a nonprofit, which means the company doesn’t have to answer to any demanding shareholders concerned about raising their stock price. Instead, a credit union has to answer to its members, since the simple act of joining a credit union makes you a part-owner of the business. So a credit union is designed to serve the people who actually use the service, not bigwigs in a corporate suite who demand higher profit margins. If your only concern is profit, you may start doing some pretty unsavory stuff, as members of big-name banks have discovered all too often in recent years.

So what do you have to do to become a member of your local credit union? Probably not much. In most cases, you simply have to live or work in the credit union’s service area. Some credit unions began as institutions designed to serve local teachers or factory workers or police officers, but many have since expanded to serve the general public. If you’re interested in joining a local credit union, just call them, stop by a branch location, or go online to get more information.

Credit unions have a volunteer board of directors, so they’re not in it for the fat bonuses, because there are no bonuses. It’s a volunteer position. So where does the money credit unions earn go? Back to the members, actually. Members get rewarded for their loyalty through things like improved member services. And if you’re looking for a loan, a credit union can usually give you a better deal than a large commercial lending institution.

Let’s say you’re looking to buy a new car. Specifically, you want to replace your old Ford Focus with a new Ford sport utility vehicle that can do a better job of accommodating your growing family. You go to the dealership and look at a few different cars. You even bring in the family to test-drive a couple of different models. Finally, you decide on the perfect SUV. Then the financing department comes back with a local quote from the biggest bank in town. It’s not nearly as good as what you were hoping for. Since any good dealership has relationships with all sorts of financial institutions, ask them to go through your local credit union. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised when they come back with a deal that makes a lot more sense for you and your family’s bank account.

In addition to offering reasonable loan rates for its customers, many credit unions offer also financial education at no charge. Hey, not all of us went to college in majored in finance. In fact, most of us didn’t. It never hurts to get a little extra help with managing our finances.

Credit unions care about the local community in large part because they were founded in your town or region, not in some distant city hundreds of miles away. So make the switch to a credit union today, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t take the plunge sooner.

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