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How to Find a Credit Union

Posted By Jim On 04/11/2011 @ 7:05 am In Banking | 12 Comments

Credit Unions kick ass. [3]

If you found yourself complaining about the “Too Big To Fail Banks” and still have your money at one of the TBTF banks, then you, my friend, have lost the right to complain. If you want to remedy that, or if you simply want better rates, then a credit union is a fantastic almost-perfect substitute for a commercial bank.

The key difference between a credit union and a commercial bank is that the depositors and borrowers of a credit union are its shareholders. With a commercial bank, the shareholders are the owners of its public stock or investors in the corporation. When the credit union counts you as a shareholder, it gives you better rates on your deposits (high yield savings accounts [4] may still offer higher rates) and better rates on your loans. Finally, credit unions are NCUA insured up to $250,000, just like commercial banks and the FDIC, so your money is safe.

The main trade off is that credit unions are smaller and so they lack the enormous geographic footprint of much larger banks.

So how do you find a good credit union?

Credit unions are required by law, the Federal Credit Union Act [5], to limit membership. The membership is generally limited to an association, such as your workplace, or a geographic region, a county or municipality.

Places to look:

  • Workplace: If your workplace is large enough, you may be able to find a credit union associated with your job. The credit union may service multiple employers, in order to get membership rolls up, but large employers may have their own. My former employer, Northrop Grumman Corporation, had its own namesake credit union.
  • Local Credit Union: Think about the last time you were driving around your local area, did you see any credit union branches? I often pass by a Tower Federal Credit Union, which services several counties in Maryland, and they are one that can offer membership based on where you live.
  • Search NCUA: If all else fails, you can use the NCUA’s Find a Credit Union [6] search feature to locate one nearby. You can also use it to confirm that that a credit union is NCUA insured (Tower Federal Credit Union is charter number 8333 and it is Federally Insured).

Have you moved your funds to a credit union lately?

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[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/find-credit-union.html

[3] Credit Unions kick ass.: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/10-reasons-why-credit-unions-kick-ass.html

[4] high yield savings accounts: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/high-yield-savings-accounts-rates.html

[5] Federal Credit Union Act: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Credit_Union_Act

[6] NCUA’s Find a Credit Union: http://cuonline.ncua.gov/CreditUnionOnline/CU/FindCreditUnions.aspx

Thank you for reading!