10 good reasons to do it today
A what? A credit union. If you haven’t heard of them before — or have, but don’t know what they are…
A credit union is a nonprofit, cooperative financial institution owned and operated by its members — those who use its banking services (checking, savings, loans, credit cards, retirement planning, etc.). Yes, like a food co-op, but for money.
Let’s start with the number one reason you should move your banking to a credit union:
Their profits go to the members (including you)
Without hungry shareholders clamoring for ever-greater profits, nonprofit credit unions use their surplus differently. Once they cover employees, technology, programs, infrastructure, and other expenses like any business, credit unions return their profits to members in the form of lower fees, lower return rates, financial education programs, and increased interest rates.
This base fact leads to these related good reasons to move your money to credit unions:
You are saving more, making more, and worrying less
Just in case you need it spelled out: What could it mean for you to have a $5 overdraft fee rather than a $36 one? A cheaper car loan or mortgage? A better credit card interest rate? Your savings account accruing interest a bit faster? Advice that’s in your interest only, without the hidden agendas of corporate banks?
You aren’t supporting unfettered corporate greed If you’re at all sour on the hypercapitalism, gross income inequality, and financialization of the economy that has become the new normal over the last forty years or so, credit unions offer a sane and safe place of sweet relief.
You are supporting values other than maximum profit Many will agree that there are higher values than maximum profit. Embedded in the idea and practice of credit unions are values of community, mutuality, sustainability, fiscal responsibility, financial education. Same money, same banking essentials. Rearranged priorities.
You are supporting a more sustainable economic model I don’t know about you, but an organizational model that doesn’t require ongoing slicing and dicing of the numbers to increase shareholder wealth and instead focuses on value to members just seems more sustainable to me. Sustainability is responsible. Indeed, it’s a conservative orientation befitting of a financial institution.
You are replacing, not fighting Replacement cuts out the middle step. Rather than fighting for change and expecting — somehow!? — the powerful to give up any power, money, and influence, replacement goes straight to the change you want. Save the energy and the heartache. Replace your bank with a credit union and begin living a new reality.
You are democratizing wealth Credit unions are entities of democratized wealth. In their nonprofit, member-oriented model they distribute our collective wealth in a more equitable way rather than in a systemic, one-way move to those at the top.
You are participating As a credit union member you own a piece of the institution and that typically grants you some type of voting rights. You can participate in the maintenance and direction of the organization that manages your money. You’re actively supporting the financial well-being of your fellow members. Participation equals a greater sense of agency, something we can easily lose in the swirl of consumerism.
You are getting your financial needs met without conflicts of interest Credit unions meet the financial needs of its members minus the conflicts of interests inherent in for-profit banks. Their vision isn’t to serve customers and increase shareholder value. It’s 100% about the needs of the members.
You may already be prepared to counter a big downside of credit unions You’re not going to find a credit union branch or ATM just around the corner the way you would with a regional or national bank, but the pandemic may have already prepared you to counter this big downside of credit unions. Many people moved partially or entirely to mobile banking since the onstart of Covid. If you were one of them, you are technologically primed to work virtually with a credit union to the degree necessary.
Find out more
Learn the basics at MyCreditUnion.gov, the National Credit Union Association, and Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
You’ll see credit unions associated with colleges and universities, the military, trades and professions (by me there’s a Brewery Credit Union and and an Educators Credit Union), and geographic regions. However, despite their origins, many credit unions are now open to any interested member. Read more about types of credit unions
Money in credits unions is as safe as money at banks. The National Credit Union Association assures that “not one penny of insured savings has ever been lost by a member of a federally insured credit union,” and Advantis Credit Union claims credit unions are safer than banks.
Interested? Find a credit union near you.
Finally, a non-sponsored shout out to UW Credit Union, where I recently had an all-virtual, first-rate experience moving my business bank accounts with my personal ones soon to follow. Check them out as a model of a credit union done right. They are as high-tech as any major bank. In fact, they were earlier adopters of banking technologies than most banks. It’s clear they care about people: the customer service is exceptional, and consideration of human factors permeates their technology, processes, and systems.