A credit union is a non-profit organization that offers money-keeping services like a bank. In contrast with banks, however, credit unions boast a few favorable points. For instance, unlike a bank that is run and controlled by shareholders, a credit union is powered by membership holders.
Consequently, you experience better aspects of customer services. Research highlights that by 2020, customer experience will top the value factors of product and price. Thus, it makes sense why credit unions are increasingly gaining prominence.
Moreover, credit unions offer low-interest rates and easier access to personal loans. Any profits made are reinvested in the union to benefit the members. Owing to such an attractive portfolio, the number of credit unions dotting the US is also on the rise. As of the last quarter of 2016, there were about 2,479 credit unions in the country.
However, choosing a credit union is not a child’s play. Hard-earned money just cannot be dumped in any corner. Instead, you need a secure place to deposit money. Unless you live in a one-horse town, you also have a handful of options to choose from.
Hence, let’s walk you through some vital factors that you should consider when finalizing a credit union:
When a child puts his money in a piggy bank, he makes sure that he keeps the box in a secure place. Often, that place tends to be under the bed or in his mom’s closet. However, as adults, it’s not possible to put away money under the bed. Thus, relying on a credit union is only natural. However, the primary factor to consider when choosing such an institute is to ensure that it is safe.
After all, nobody keeps his money in a treasury that is notorious for robberies. Therefore, make sure that the National Credit Union Association backs the federal credit union that you select. Since you’re on the lookout for ‘federal’ credit unions, these should already be insured. However, it is wise to double check for safety purposes.
2. Membership qualification
Entry into credit unions is based on qualification. These are touted as exclusive clubs that require you to be part of the same work field, worship, or other such association. Subsequently, when you choose a federal credit union, it is crucial to check if you are eligible for it.
There is nothing to worry about though. Eligibility criteria don’t tend to be overtly strict. In fact, in certain credit unions, you can get a membership if your relative is a member of the financial institution. Therefore, google about “Federal Credit Union Near Me” and check out the results’ membership requirements on their website. Alternatively, call their member service to learn more.
3. The accessibility of the automated teller machine (ATM)
Another critical factor to take into account is the accessibility offered by a credit union. To this end, check the ATMs location. If a federal credit union’s ATM is in your vicinity, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if a branch doesn’t fall within your area, then it may add to the daily hustle.
You will need to drive far to deposit and withdraw your money, eating at your savings. Some credit unions are part and parcel of a wider net of ATMs and allow you to conduct simple transactions. Therefore, check out these locations before selecting a federal credit union.
4. The convenience offered via online banking features
As per Pew Research, approximately nine in ten people in the US are online. About 77% of folks also own a smartphone. This sets the need for a federal credit union that offers online banking features.
In this regard, explore a credit union’s e-services. Find out if it aligns with the latest trends such as mobile banking services, mobile apps, and so on. Ask if you can pay your bills online, check your account, and get additional e-services. Such tech is useful for keeping tabs on your money.
5. Current interest rates and fees
Lastly, it is also essential to determine the fee structure and interest rates before working with a federal credit union. The exact fee schedule varies as per a financial institution. However, a few rough points include an account opening fee, monthly fees for maintenance, balance fees, mobile banking fees, etc.
Likewise, learn about the interest rates. As compared to banks, federal credit unions often have lower interest rates. The ideal candidate for you is the one that charges lower than the average interest on debts and higher than the average interest on deposits.
Choosing the right federal union can be a tough nut to crack, especially, if you have some good options to choose from. Credits unions already exhibit 93.9 million members. You can easily become one too by carefully selecting a financial house that meets your needs the best.