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Top 4 Reasons to Bank at a Credit Union

February 24, 2016 | Our Members. Share this article: ShareTop 4 Reasons to Bank at a Credit Union on Facebook Share Top 4 Reasons to Bank at a Credit Union on Twitter

More than 105 million people nationwide have figured out that a traditional bank isn’t always the best place to do their banking. Credit unions offer another option, and joining one can benefit you and your neighbors.

Here are four great reasons to start banking with a credit union.

Members come first

Banks are profit-driven businesses that need to focus on the bottom line. Credit unions provide a genuine alternative by operating as not-for-profit organizations. This model gives credit unions the freedom to focus on the needs of members and surrounding neighborhoods — and this focus plays out in many different ways.

For example, credit union members vote to elect the credit union’s board of directors. Each member gets one vote, regardless of their balance. And credit unions like the Cincinnati Ohio Police Federal Credit Union distribute profits to their members as dividends, unlike banks, which return profits to stockholders. These dividends are in addition to any interest earned through savings and investment accounts.

Members may receive other rewards and perks you don’t always find at banks, including loan discount opportunities, free cashier’s checks and money orders, and access to scholarships, financial guidance, online calculators and specially priced insurance.

Credit unions also have a commitment to their surrounding communities and are more likely than banks to invest locally, providing a boost to small businesses and neighborhood economies. Staff tend to volunteer their time and resources in local charitable and cultural events.

More favorable rates and fees

Credit unions’ nonprofit status often allows them to provide products and services at a lower cost than banks can. For instance, credit unions’ loan rates consistently beat that of banks. The national average rates for new- or used-car loans at credit unions runs at least 2 percentage points below what banks charge — which can amount to big bucks over the life of a four- or five-year loan. Credit unions also tend to have lower service fees than banks do.

A better shot at financing

Because their purpose is to serve the community rather than turn a profit, and because they make decisions locally, credit unions may give you a better chance at financing approval than banks. A big bank typically sends loan paperwork to headquarters for review, while a staff member at your local credit union is likely to read your loan application. That can improve your shot at getting the funds you need, even if your credit history isn’t perfect.

State-of-the-art products and services

Switching to a credit union doesn’t mean settling. In addition to a wide range of saving and financing options, credit unions have the most popular banking features around, such as mobile banking, Popmoney, remote bill pay, eStatements, and direct deposit. You’ll also enjoy access to a large network of free ATMs. And rest assured that all credit union accounts are federally insured up to $250,000 — the same amount of protection bank accounts have.

Joining a credit union is fast and easy. You’ll be treated like family from day one, and the tangible benefits will extend to your entire community. Once you’ve experienced the credit union difference, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to get on board.

Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet

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