I’ve been a proud member of a credit union for over 20 years, and I can’t envision my financial life without it. That might sound like an exaggeration, but there are honestly so many reasons that I love credit unions.
My first introduction to the world of credit unions was through Navy Federal Credit Union. After my divorce, I dropped my membership. At times, I wish I hadn’t — it is a fabulous credit union. As a state government employee, however, today my children and I are members of our State Employees Credit Union.
Here are some reasons why I love credit unions so much.
A Personal Touch
Yes, your teller might know your name at your bank, but with a credit union, you can usually approach a manager if you need something special. For example, I was having a hard time qualifying for a mortgage because I had done a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure when the real estate market tanked. I was initially denied a mortgage but was able to meet with the branch manager and explain why I wasn’t really a risk. I’ve never missed a mortgage payment, and I continue to be a proud homeowner. I liked the opportunity to explain my situation and not be considered just another number.
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Like a lot of others, I wanted to refinance my home at one point to lower the interest rate and to pay off some higher interest loans. Though I didn’t qualify for a refinance since my home is no longer my primary residence (I rent it out), the loan officer spoke about my different options to accomplish the same goal. I ended up transferring higher-interest cards to a new lower-interest credit card, the same credit card that I use for short-term expenses while traveling.
Loan Rates Up Front
I hate applying for a loan with a bank. Whenever I’ve called to ask about the interest rate, I’m given a ridiculous range like 2.5 to 25 percent, depending on my credit score. That means taking a hard inquiry without knowing specifically what rate I might be offered. With most credit unions, the rate is always posted online. It may not be super low, but it is the same regardless of your credit score.
Discounts for Direct Deposit or Payroll Deduction
I can save even more on the interest rate by setting up a payroll deduction or by setting up an automatic funds transfer. Not only does this mean that I get a lower rate, but it also means that I never forget to make a payment.
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Less Costs for Mortgages
Many credit unions do not require private mortgage insurance, saving you major money. My credit union also doesn’t charge an application fee, which I had to pay with some of the larger banks in the past.
Every year during tax season, my credit unions have offered free or reduced-price tax preparation for those who qualify. Children of members can apply for scholarships for college, too. Then, there are the little extras, like discounted tickets to nearby attractions.
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As a member of the credit union network, I can often access ATMs without a fee. Credit unions band together to make access to Cash Points and other ATMs, where they waive fees for credit union members. I like not having to pay to access my own money or to hunt down a specific bank’s ATM.
Easier to Get Credit
When my youngest son wanted to buy his vehicle at 18 years old, he would have had a hard time getting a loan. But as a member of a credit union, he qualified. Credit unions do a good job of balancing benefits to their members and avoiding overly risky investments.
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Though big banks might be necessary for some, I’m so happy with all the benefits of my credit union that I can’t believe some people don’t use them. I will always have a credit union in my financial life. Maybe you should consider one, too.
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