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What are the benefits of a Credit Union?


Credit unions are founded on the philosophy of people helping people, says Stephen Lark, vice president of marketing and corporate development for Communication Federal Credit Union, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "We look at fee structure and locations to make sure [they] benefit the greater good," he says. In fact, when you join a credit union, you become an owner, and that status translates into certain privileges:

  • Lower rates on loans and credit cards. Credit unions offer some of the best rates on credit products such as car loans, mortgages and credit cards. They provide fee-free checking accounts and savings accounts, too, without requiring a substantial minimum balance. That can be a huge relief when your funds dip into the single digits.

  • More forgiving qualification standards. If you don't have a credit history or do but it's damaged, you could have serious trouble scoring a credit card or loan with a low rate from a bank. Credit unions are more forgiving of people in this position. "When a member applies, we run their credit to see who they owe and how much, and check to see if they've paid their bills on time," says Angie Coleman, chief marketing officer for Jax Federal Credit Union, which serves the Northeast Florida community. "If they're having problems, we don't just say no—we work with the member so they will qualify."

  • A powerful presence in the community. If you love where you live and the people in your profession, joining a credit union can be a wonderful way to take part in their betterment. The credit union might award grants and scholarships to worthy local students, such as Alliant Credit Union in Chicago, or sponsor local fundraisers, as First Financial Credit Union in California does. The programs differ by location and need, but credit unions are generally committed to being a positive force in the community.

  • Higher rates on savings accounts. Credit unions tend to offer higher interest rates on savings and deposit accounts than banks do. Massachusetts-based Digital Credit Union, for instance, currently offers members an impressive annual yield of 6.7%on the first $1,000 in their primary savings account. And these accounts are as secure as those provided by commercial banks, since they are also insured.

  • Personalized credit assistance. If your credit rating is poor, you can turn to your credit union for help. "We have at least one certified credit counselor who can sit down with people," says Lark. "We give members a credit score for free and then walk them through the numbers. We look at their entire picture and explain how to increase their scores, get out of debt, discuss their best products and services, and cover their long-term goals and short-term issues."

  • Other education. Part of the mission and purpose of a credit union is to educate their members about the wide span of money and credit matters. They often staff financial advisors to give advice and host free financial workshops. Some credit unions go beyond economics, such as Communication Federal Credit Union, which puts on women's defense classes.

Experian Article - Written By: Erica Sanbderg, April 15, 2019

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