When you are considering a financial institution, you may want to check out the credit unions in your area. They provide all the same services as a traditional bank, but typically involve lower fees and transaction costs. Its members also own these institutions, and so the members elect the board of directors and have a say in important decisions. They are also non-profit organizations. This means that their main focus is keeping their customers happy, not how much profit they make. While it is the institution’s responsibility to be financially sound and manage its members’ money wisely, the bottom line is to ensure member satisfaction.
Many credit unions go beyond just being a financial institution, and are deeply involved in their communities. Many offer scholarship programs, sponsor community relief initiatives, and more. They want to be a part of their members’ lives and invest in the local area. You may find that some credit unions in your area are targeted to specific groups of people, such as government employees, firefighters or the military. Many, however, are open to the public, so anyone can join simply by depositing money.
Here are just some of the services provided:
Credit unions call their savings account “share” accounts. That’s because when you deposit your money, you now have a share in the corporation. That makes you a member. You have access to regular savings accounts, checking accounts, and special accounts such as money market and certificates of deposits. Normally, the rates are more competitive, if not slightly better, than a traditional bank. Some will offer special services for children, or the time of year (summer or holidays), or saving for college.
You’ll find that most of your borrowing needs are covered at these institutions. Most will offer different mortgage packages, personal and vehicle loans and credit cards. You may also find the opportunity for student loans or salary advance loans. Many times, the fees for these services are less than a bank’s.
In today’s world, online access to your account is important. Most credit unions allow you to manage your account online, pay bills, transfer money, and send secure messages. Usually, there are no extra fees associated with any of the online services.
Other services may vary depending on the location and target customer for the institution. Some may provide advice and services for estate planning, insurance, investments and trusts. They can also help you with general financial and retirement planning. Most credit unions will provide safe deposit boxes, savings bonds, help with tax forms and notary services as well.
While banks do want to please their customers, they are most interested in making their customer’s money work for their profit. Credit unions have a priority to satisfy their members, and offer exceptional customer service for that purpose. Choose the type of institution that is right for your financial needs.