10 Reasons Why I Love Our Credit Union

Since I landed my first job at age 15, I have been with the same bank. It is a credit union open only to residents of Washington State and I love the perks it gives us. When my husband and I got married, we decided to go with my bank for our checking and savings account because the benefits of this bank far outweighed the benefits of his bank (which was also a credit union). Here are some the reasons I love our bank:

1. High Initial Interest Rate: On the first $500 in our checking account, as well as the first $500 in our savings account, we earn 7.5% interest. You pretty much can’t beat that for a savings or checking account anywhere else. Granted it is only the first $1000 combined, but you better believe we keep that $1000 in there at all times to take advantage of that interest rate that trumps even our high-yield online savings account that houses our emergency fund.

2. Interest Rate Received on Checking Account: I’m not sure if a lot banks give you interest on the money in your checking account, but I know there are at least a few that don’t. Even though it isn’t a large amount by any means (.5%) we earn interest on the amount that sits in our checking account. Again, it isn’t much, but it sure beats earning nothing on the money that’s just sitting in there waiting to pay bills.

3. No Monthly Fees: My husband’s former bank charged a $3 fee just for holding a checking account there. To him, $3 a month was no big deal. To me, it’s ridiculous. Sure, $3 a month isn’t a lot, but it’s a charge that is unnecessary when you can get a checking account elsewhere for free. And $3 a month adds up over time. As soon as I found out that his bank charged that $3 a month, we immediately transferred everything to my account (and set it up as a joint account) and closed his account down. That was the last $3 charge they received from us. Now we don’t get charged just for having an account there. Granted there are still fees for overdrafts and things of that nature, but not for simply having an account.

4. Automatic Overdraft Protection: Even though our bank does charge for overdrafts, it doesn’t affect us because we always have money to cover it. If our account were to overdraft (pretty much only when a bill is due the day before a paycheck comes) our bank will automatically cover that charge with money from our savings account in order to avoid a charge. Since we always have money in our savings account, we never have to pay overdraft fees.

5. Other Services Offered: In addition to checking and savings accounts, our bank offer multiple other services such as credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, CDs, money market accounts and much more! I got my first car loan from this bank and the payment would come automatically out of my savings account. I also got my first credit card from them. As a young teenager just starting my credit history, they gave me a card with a low limit based on my having an account there. I started learning financial responsibility with a credit card because they gave me something to start with. We have also had a few CDs with them that have offered pretty competitive interest rates.

6. Easy Transferring: In addition to having multiple services, it is very easy to transfer money to and from different accounts located at our bank. I can buy a CD with a click of the mouse and see the balance of that CD every time I log into online banking. I can also move money to and from my savings and checking accounts with the click of a button and the funds are moved instantly. Making an extra auto loan payment is just as easy. In fact just yesterday I was able to transfer money from our checking account to our auto loan and pay off the loan completely with just a couple clicks.

7. Co-op Banks: Since our bank is a credit union, it is part of a co-op group of other credit unions that are all over. Being part of this co-op means we can make deposits, withdrawals or any other transactions at any other credit union with no charge, including using their ATMs. This is more than just a matter of convenience for us since we don’t have an actual branch of our bank within 300 miles of our city. A couple years ago we moved across the state where they our bank doesn’t have any branches. But because of the co-op, we are able to use any credit union near us to take care of any transactions. We do most of our banking online, but sometimes we have to make deposits or get out cash and being able to do so free of charge at these other credit unions is extremely convenient and handy.

8. Quality Customer Service: In a time where it seems that quality customer service is virtually non-existent, it’s refreshing to work with a company that cares about their customers — especially when they hold your money. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with this bank for the past 10 years. Just the other day we had an unauthorized withdrawal from our checking account. I called customer service and they told me to go to their website, download a specific form, fill it out and fax it back in. I did that and less than an hour later the money was put back into my account. I was surprised to see it back that fast, but very happy about how they treated the issue.

9. Financial Classes: Our bank also offers free financial classes and web seminars on different financial topics, including personal finance, real estate and mortgage, retirement planning, small businesses, and trusts, wills and probates. In addition, they also offer free financial counseling to their members. As a non-profit credit union, they seem to be more interested in helping their members succeed than merely getting their money.

10. Scholarships and Grants: When I was in college and trying to make tuition payments, I applied for one of the scholarships my bank was offering. I was volunteering with the youth ministry at my church at the time and wrote an essay about what I learned from that experience and I also sent in a few letters of recommendation. They selected me as one of their scholarship recipients and rewarded me with a $2000 scholarship. The school I was attending was a smaller school, so that scholarship pretty much took care of an entire year of tuition. They also offer grants to schools to help with things like building a library or starting different learning projects for students.

There are many other credit unions and banks out there that might offer these same perks and I hope that you receiving these types of benefits as well. If not, I hope you see that there are banks out there that will offer you some nice advantages for the benefit of holding your money. There are enough businesses out there that just want your money and don’t care about you — don’t let your bank be one of them.

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14 Responses to 10 Reasons Why I Love Our Credit Union

  1. I’m sorry, but I just have to point out the oxymoron in the first two sentences of this article (And the third, and the fourth). Credit unions are not banks. I’m sure you knew that, and just made a mistake, right? 😀


  2. Tristan says:

    OK, someone who is more familiar with these terms please chime in and clear this up. I always assumed that a credit union was a type of bank. As in, “a credit union is part of the US banking system” So a credit union is a bank.

  3. greg says:

    Bank -noun: an institution for receiving, lending, exchanging, and safeguarding money and, in some cases, issuing notes and transacting other financial business.

    That is the definition I found in my dictionary which would mean that a credit union is a kind of bank

  4. Wikipedia has a good explanation:

    A credit union is a cooperative financial institution that is privately owned and controlled by its members. Credit unions differ from banks and other financial institutions in that the members who have accounts in the credit union are the owners of the credit union and they elect their board of directors in a democratic one person-one vote system regardless of the amount of money invested in the credit union.


    Credit unions maintain that no matter their size or field of membership, the fact that they are owned by their members and not shareholders makes them fundamentally different from banks.

    The Fed also offers an explanation at http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/faq/faqbkinfo.htm#11

  5. david says:

    I think it depends on how you view the term: whether you are taking it literally or as a general term of all financial institutions. Kind of like Kleenex is a generic term for all tissue paper and another brand isn’t Kleenex, but Kleenex is often used as referring to all tissue paper.

    The author did make is a bit confusing and could have done a better job of explaining that part.

  6. Christina says:

    Hey Cortni, I think we conduct our financial business at the same credit union!

  7. Hilary says:

    The important difference is that credit unions are not FDIC insured, whereas banks are. Usually credit unions are insured by some other organization, but it’s not federal.

  8. Brent Dixon says:

    Credit unions are just as insured. Their insurance comes from the Nation Credit Union Administration, an arm of the federal government. You can check out more on that here.

  9. Jim says:

    A credit union is not a bank.

    It is an ogranization that does provide some banking services, but the legal and tax setups are very different. Banks don’t really like credit unions because banks are taxed much more severely than credit unions (quite honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see credit unions disappear in the next decade or two due to lobbying from banks).

    What is a Credit Union? A credit union is a nonprofit co-op organization that offers banking and financial services to a specific group (and only that group!).

    While an earlier commentor was correct that the FDIC does not insured credit unions (only banks), all federally-chartered credit unions are insured by an entity equal to the FDIC called the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration).

    NCUA is a federal agency that oversees, charters, and “backs up” FEDERAL credit unions (not necessarily state-chartered credit unions) through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), a federal fund backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

    If a credit union is only chartered by a state, its oversite and guarantee fund would be up to your local legislators’ infinte wisdom. :)

  10. Karen Wheless says:

    I was a happy credit union member for many year. Unfortunately, I ran into a couple of problems that sent me to a regular bank. One was the lack of online account information and bill paying. I love online bill pay (now that I’ve tried it, I’d never live without it), and the main reason I left my credit union was that they had a very limited web site that didn’t offer it. (Even account information was often weeks behind.) This was a few years ago, so I hope credit unions have moved with the times and now offer this kind of service.

    ATM access was another issue. I managed to work around that, but it was a hassle when traveling or when I was away from home. It became very hard to find ATM’s that didn’t charge an extra fee. One “out of network” fee would easily wipe out any interest I’d earned for that month in my checking account.

  11. Heather says:

    Credit unions differ from banks in that they exist to promote the thrift and financial well-being of their members. Banks exist to produce a profit for shareholders. Banks don’t care about their customers, only how much money they can drain out of your pocket and put into theirs. Ture, some credit unions have lost sight of the thrift mentality, pushing unnecessary loans and credit on people and acting just like banks; however, these are the minority. The majority are genuinely concerned about their members’ financial status, and offer many resources for those who sincerely want to “get their money right.”
    Because of this, most credit unions passed on subprime or exotic mortgages, and as a result, the entire industry will emerge from this subprime mess smelling like a rose. Bankers are trying to eliminate credit unions so people don’t have a say in what happens to their money. Without credit unions, banks can charge whatever the hell they want and make whatever rules they want. Credit unions keep them honest, and remind people that banks DON’T have to control our lives – WE control our lives. Thanks for the great blog post – GO CREDIT UNIONS!

  12. Tanya says:

    Karen, I am sorry that you felt the need to look for solutions at a bank instead of seeking out another credit union that would meet your needs.

    My credit union has online banking with access to all of my information. I even have it set up to send me a notice when my balance gets low so I don’t have to pay overdraft fees. It has a great website that provides lots of information. They are a part of the shared branching network that allows me to access my funds by talking to a real person at any one of the 4,000 other credit union branch locations in 46 states. They can do this because credit unions are not only cooperatives but they cooperate with each other. They are also apart of what is called the Co-op, which is a network of surcharge free ATMs – 25,000 ATMs nation wide. I can get cash where ever I go. They also post my deposits the same day so I have immediate access to the funds and start earning interest on my savings the day I put it in.

    Just to clear up one more misconception – they are a state chartered credit union AND are insured by the NCUA. Only a small number of credit unions do not have this type of insurance backing them up.

    If my credit union ever failed to meet my needs, I certainly would see if there was another one that could. I am much more interested in giving my business to someone who is looking out after me rather than some investor across the country or around the world.

  13. Matt B says:

    I’ve worked in both the banking industry and in the Credit Union industry. I can tell you without a doubt there is 100% difference between Banks and Credit Unions. Banks try to make as much money for their owners as possible – the shareholders – which are typically not the customers of the bank. Credit Unions are owned by each and every person who has an account so if the Credit Union makes money; those profits are returned to the members of the Credit Union in the form of lower loan product rates, higher savings products rates and sometimes even ‘cash back’. Big difference is that banks are For-Profit and Credit Unions are Not-For-Profit. Credit Unions are for the ‘normal’ people who have accounts there and banks are for the rich people who own the bank – plain and simple. In my opinion, everyone should belong to a Credit Union. Why? If the institution makes money, who should it go to – that fat cats who own the institution or all the people who belong to that institution who allowed the institution to make all that money? I’m not the smartest person in the world but this decision is a no-brainer.

    Even the ‘motto’ of Credit Unions tells the story – “People helping people”.

  14. c0nd3mn3d says:

    Nice! I love my credit union, too. But, it’s “Ten Reasons I Love Our Credit Union.” As the New York Time told me when I corrected them, placing the word “why” after a form of the word “reason” is “sloppy construction.”

    Here’s hoping that either you have no pet peeves or that yours are not as ubiquitous as this one of mine :-)

    And so I’m not just picking on the OP: Tanya – excellent response, by the way – it’s “wherever,” not “where ever.” 😛

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