Laker Cents: What You Might Not Know About Credit Unions

Wherever you live, you’re probably surrounded by lots of different banking options. Most places have a variety of banks and credit unions, all with their own unique offerings and benefits. With all the options, how are you ever supposed to pick? Choosing an institution to start building a relationship with is a big decision, and it’s the reason some feel intimidated to open accounts. Since you’re surrounded by options, we want to make the path easy and clear for you. A credit union may be your best option!

Did you know that you actually own part of the credit union when you become a member? It’s the reason you aren’t called a customer. When you open an account, you immediately have a say in things and a stake in the business. Members have the opportunity to elect a volunteer Board of Directors who help to oversee the credit union’s operations (and you can even run for an open position). You don’t just become associated with a business – you become part of a bigger movement.

Yes, we said *volunteer* Board of Directors. Members of the Board dedicate many hours to helping oversee a credit union for nothing in return except the gratification of helping out. Typical Board members are service driven, active in the community, and passionate about the credit union movement of “People Helping People.”

The credit union movement helps to guide the actions of the organization, which is one reason why credit unions are always eager to educate their members, spread awareness, and teach financial literacy. You’ll notice that credit unions often have outreach programs with local schools and organizations to teach students financial fundamentals. Many times, the institution has financial literacy resources for their members too.

Speaking of local, did you know that credit unions utilize Field of Membership rules? This means that different credit unions have different eligibility requirements. Many membership charters started as a narrower field (for example, ONLY employees of Company X and their dependents) but have evolved over the years to encompass many groups. Take GLFFCU – to become a member, you have to live, work, worship, or go to school in Delta County. Credit unions are always finding ways to make membership easy, convenient, and accessible.

Easy, convenient and flexible are words that credit unions live by. Credit unions recognize diversity in members and understand the ever-changing scope of different needs. That’s why credit unions are many time flexible in lending, willing to be “first chance” lenders to help build a relationship, and offer lower fees, higher savings rates, and dividends returned back to the members.

At the end of a credit union’s day, it’s not all about the bottom line- it’s about the member. This holds true seeing that credit unions are not-for-profit institutions. Success isn’t measured so much in dollars made or profits. It’s measured in how many people were helped and how many lives were impacted positively.

This only skims the surface of the benefits of a credit union. There’s many great resources available to learn more. Click here for a quick, helpful article from MyCreditUnion.Gov or here for a quick read from The Balance.



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