Benefits of a Credit Union

If you’re not exactly sure how a credit union is different from a bank, you’re not alone. They look like banks, they handle money like banks and they keep banking hours. This makes us wonder why they are unique and what sets credit unions apart from other financial institutions.

The simplified answer is, credit unions are not-for-profit, whereas banks are set up as profit bearing organizations. Additionally, credit unions are member-owned, democratically controlled by an elected Board of Directors and designed to work within the best interest of their members.

We see a big difference between credit unions and banks now! However, there must be more. We want to continue this moment of clarity by understanding the dynamics of a credit union and the benefits they have to offer.

Personalized Customer Service

In the credit union world, it’s all about the members. From personalized customer service to a friendly smile, credit unions will go the extra mile to keep their members happy. It’s a winning approach. Without a profit-based model to uphold, it becomes about the member experience.

The image of banks has taken a hit lately. Large metro and national banks in particular can have a robotic feel, sterile sense and herd-like approach. We’ve all heard the too-frequent horror stories of 800# customer service lines and unbelievably long-hold times.

Conversely, credit unions are gaining momentum on the satisfaction scale. Being locally centered, they have a physical location, staff dedicated to answering the phones and a human-centric vibe that gives us a sense of belonging.

MCCU team holding pets on pet day

(MCCU team on Pet Day)

Great Rates

A fabulous benefit, if not the best benefit, of a credit union is great rates. How do they do it?

Credit Unions are able to boast lower rates because, you guessed it, they are not seeking to turn a profit. Outside investors aren’t pushing for money-motivated self-interest, which means member savings can be generated through favorable interest rates. 

Another great perk of some credit unions is their payback opportunities. For example, Missouri Central Credit Union offers Member Bonus Dividends for amounts and deposits dedicated to specified checking accounts, savings accounts and loans.

Imagine making money by simply participating in everyday financial services. We are intrigued with this philosophy. Great rates along with profit sharing opportunities make the credit union experience a truly unique one. 

Community Focus

Investment in the community is part of the credit union culture. Their local presence lends itself to local outreach and a neighborhood connection.

Credit unions often partner with local non-profit organizations. Their flexibility allows them to be hands-on and provide on-site help. Aside from member payouts, credit unions can provide monetary donations to community initiatives and groups. With a local Board of Directors making decisions, final outcomes are relevant to what is happening in the direct area.

Credit Union donate to local charity

(Former MCCU President, Glenna Jarvis, presenting donation check to local non-profit Answering the Call)

If you have a cause you are particularly passionate about, talk to your local credit union about support. Being a member gives you a voice and a potential platform to make a difference in your community.

Member Owned

Membership to a credit union is geographically based on residential living, however, caveats including places of employment and familial connections; make membership attainable for most everyone. It’s a fellowship of democracy and in a true sense, your vote counts.

Credit Union membership means everyone benefits. They make it easy to take out loans, transfer loans, open checking accounts and other financially minded services. Management teams have the authority to work with individuals one-on-one and meet with the Board of Directors without bureaucratic red tape.

Being part of a credit union means being part of a cooperative. Mutual goals, mutual support and mutual gains are shared within the group.

Lower Fees

If banks are in it for the fiscal-year payout, how are they making their money? Part of the answer to this question lies within the fees. Monthly fees, transfer fees, refinance fees, ATM fees and the list keeps going.

While credit unions have fees, they are not as intense or as steep as standard bank fees. For example, the cost to refinance an auto loan at Missouri Central Credit Union is generally under $5.00. There isn’t a refinance fee, application fee or closing fee. The only associated charge is to acquire the Title.

The extras make a difference too. Credit unions will offer notary, mobile banking, online services, overdraft protection and more without cost associations. Some banks on the other hand will hide fees and/or charge what seem to be minimal amounts, which over time add up to a big number.

Member Bonus Dividends

Member Bonus Dividends are at the heart of Missouri Central Credit Union. This profit sharing agenda qualifies members through their use of various loans, checking accounts and savings accounts. It’s an incentive-based system that works well. Over the last four years, MCCU has shared $250,000 with their owner/members.

Missouri Central Credit Union Team Holding Big Check

(MCCU local team with Member Bonus Dividend check to be distributed to members for 2018)

However, not all credit unions have bonus-based programs. We recommend checking with your local credit union about membership qualifications, profit sharing and member related perks.

It’s been a pleasure enjoying this AHA! moment with you. We hope you invest in the advantages of a credit union and all the benefits they have to offer.