How To Choose A Credit Union

How To Choose A Credit Union

With more than 7,500 credit unions in the U.S., with many cities boasting anywhere from 20-70, deciding on one can be tough. But it doesn’t have to be. Follow the simple steps below to find the perfect credit union for you.

Published Monday, March 25, 2013

A big bank isn’t always the best fit for a family or an individual. Hidden fees, tight-fisted lending and impersonal service are just some of the possible turn-offs. Credit unions, on the other hand, often offer better savings, convenience, lower rates on loans and fees, home loan options, and excellent service. Some have fields of membership, meaning its members must belong to one or more specific groups. But, thankfully, due to significant growth in credit unions over the past 20 years, just about everyone can join a credit union through a connection. 

1. Ask around. Ask your friends, relatives and co-workers about their experiences with credit unions to find out which ones in your area have a good reputation. Most people will be happy to share their experiences – good and bad – with you.

2. Make a list…and check it twice. Investigate credit unions in your area and make a list of the ones that appeal to you. If you live in a small town, include neighboring small towns. (If you need help, visit creditunionaccess.com.) Call their branches or check their websites to get information about interest rates, fees, minimum balance requirements, loan eligibility, access to ATM machines, online banking, and more.

3. Determine eligibility. With each credit union on your list, make sure you look into whether you qualify to become a member.

4. Consider their services. As a general rule, smaller credit unions can mean fewer services. Eliminate those from your list that don’t offer the services you need. For example, not all credit unions offer Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

5. Investigate security. Some credit unions have deposit insurance via the National Credit Union Associate (NCUA), while others are insured by private companies. If you prefer one insurer over another, make sure you look into what your potential credit unions use and modify your list accordingly.

6. Apply. Fill out and submit an application online. To prove eligibility, you’ll likely have to give the name of your qualifying group or relative who belongs to that group. You also may need $25-$50 to open a checking account. By doing just a bit of research and asking the right questions, you can find the right credit union for you.

Credit: America’s Credit Unions, SavingsAccounts.com

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