Credit unions are cooperative banking and financial companies. They are usually non-profit and cater to a particular group of people that work or live in the same place, for example. Credit unions are owned by the accountholders, who also participate in the management and direction of the company.
Today, credit unions offer more than just checking and savings accounts, although these low-cost basic accounts are the reason most people join. Most credit union savings accounts pay slightly more than their counterparts at for-profit banking institutions. Credit union checking accounts usually carry less restrictive requirements and lower fees than those at banks.
Credit unions have expanded into the realm of financial services as well. Most offer loans for a variety of needs, including personal loans, automobile loans and mortgage loans. Interest rates are usually a bit lower than those at other commercial lenders, and sometimes their qualification requirements are easier to meet. Before shopping for a automobile, boat, motorcycle or home improvements, you may want to consider talking to your credit union. Shopping with a pre-approved, lower rate loan from your credit union increases your bargaining power and your buying power. Many credit unions can also write student loans and signature loans.
In addition to loans, many credit unions offer additional financial services. These include dividend bearing checking accounts, which usually carry no fees and pay better interest than most banks savings accounts, and higher rate certificates of deposit. Most now offer low or no-fee access to automated teller machines and debit cards that can be used almost anywhere. Credit cards are also available at most credit unions, with discounted fees and more reasonable interest rates making them more attractive than national offerings.
Other financial services that you can expect to find at your credit union include stock brokerage services, mutual funds and personal financial planning. Some are even offering individual retirement accounts and insurance coverage. Of course, choosing someone to help with your financial planning is an important decision, but consider the helpful folks at the credit union when you are investigating your options. You may find that not only are their fees lower, but they offer many of the same types of products as other financial planners.
Credit unions offer many financial services today, and there is one out there for almost anyone. Check your local phone directory or online and youll most likely find one that youll qualify for. Since todays credit unions are federally insured up to $100,000 by the National Credit Union Administration, your deposits are safe. When you start looking for financial services, consider your credit union as well. Youll be surprised at what they have to offer today.