3 Reasons I Love My Credit Union

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In 2011, the Occupy Movement focused attention on the nation’s credit unions when they launched a national campaign that resulted in 650,000 people dropping their banks and switching to a credit union. Although that number was later revised lower, 2011 was the year that many people tried their local credit union for the first time.

Still, many of us put our money in big banks because that’s what our parents told us to do. My parents were loyal credit union customers but for a short time I was an unhappy customer at a large bank before switching back to a credit union. Here’s what I learned.

Old Fashioned Business

This story of a person who switched his accounts from his bank to a credit union is not uncommon and it echoes what I have found after years of banking at a credit union. Credit unions act and feel more like local small businesses than the mega banks. When I make a deposit, they don’t make me fill out a deposit slip because they know me by name. When I have a question, I can get an answer in the office that sits next to the teller instead of having to call a customer service number and when I was a victim of identity theft, it was a painless process that my credit union took care of for me.

Not all credit unions will be as friendly as mine but in my experience with multiple credit unions, the hometown feel is something I appreciate.

Better Rates

Because credit unions are owned by the account holders, they aren’t under pressure to make money for their stockholders. They use the profits to offer better rates on their loan products. The same person above found that his new credit union offered him a 6% interest rate on a credit card compared to the 17% rate that he got from his old bank. When I first joined a credit union, I applied for an auto loan and not only got a better rate but the loan could be paid in full at any time without penalty. Not only have I read about the great rates, I’ve experienced them personally.

The only time you’ll find better rates on savings is with online savings accounts, because they usually have lower overhead costs and can pass those savings to their customers. If you look at traditional brick and mortar banks, they can’t compete with credit unions because they are beholden to shareholders, not account holders.


I was a college student once and like many, I was a bad money manager trying to stretch very limited funds. During that time, I had a negative balance on a few occasions but because the credit union knew my parents, they gave me a free pass on those overdraft fees more than once.

In this story, Liz talks about the same kind of treatment from her credit union. Not only were they more forgiving than a bank, they quickly alerted her when an overdraft took place instead of sending a letter that kept her account overdrawn for multiple days allowing it to amass fees.

The Problem

Although credit unions offer a more hometown feel, if you’re looking for a technologically advanced bank complete with sophisticated websites and IPhone apps, you may not get that from a credit union. Although their technology is improving, you might have a little more bookkeeping to do when the credit union statement comes in the mail.

Should You Do It?

Although I like my technology, I like the hometown small business feel of my credit union so much that I can do without the IPhone app. Switching financial institutions is difficult but you can try a credit union by opening a small checking or savings account and trying their services before making the large move. If you’re like myself and so many others, you’ll wonder how you lived without a credit union for so long.

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “3 Reasons I Love My Credit Union”

  1. My credit union seems to be alot like yours. I LOVE not having to fill out bank slips to deal with my own money.

  2. PFM says:

    We just refi’d with our local credit union, it was great, the origination fee was only .50, didn’t feel like I was nickle-and-dimed on other fees, I would definitely recommend them to others

  3. Jason says:

    I am a HUGE credit union fan. 3 years ago I joined a local credit union when I bought a new house and they had the best rates going. About 6 months after getting the mortgage, I had finally HAD IT with the large bank I had been with forever. They were bleeding me to death with nickel and dime fees and service was going down hill fast. My CU gives me great rates on savings and checking (3% up to $15k in my checking) with no fees. Service is far better too. Last November I refinanced that same mortgage because rates had dropped again. The entire process was again incredible smooth and fast. Incredible service.

    I just wrote an article on my blog a week back or so on CU’s.

  4. Shirley says:

    I have been with our local Credit Union since 1963 and have never been disappointed with anything there.

  5. dePriest says:

    I had to close my c.u. savings account when I closed my checking account with them. They wanted to charge me a monthly fee to keep the savings account! I guess that was my punishment for closing my checking account with them after they closed the local branch so I’d have to go 35 miles to get to their closest place. Everyone disses banks, but my bank (a well-known national bank) doesn’t charge us for checking or savings.

  6. Michelle says:

    Many credit unions are improving their technology and getting smart phone apps. Not all of them have it, but mine does, and I’m seeing more and more pop up. Definitely don’t let that discourage you if your credit union doesn’t have mobile banking yet. I’m almost sure they one day will!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am a member of our local credit union. I would never go back to a bank. All the banks that i once visited have that same feel. I love that down home feel the credit unions have. Not to mention great rates.

  8. Sadie says:

    Credit Union is a far better place for Health Savings Account monies! Initial large NYC bank continued increasing their fees to point I was receiving $.25 (twenty-five cents) per month interest & I knew next increase I would be owing the bank an additional $.25!

    Switched to credit union & now in the money!
    Increased Interest At Credit Union simply means I have a positive account instead of one eating into my funds.

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