The Credit Union Difference
The Credit Union Difference
Credit unions are not-for-profit, cooperative financial services providers—owned and governed by their members. That unique structure intentionally holds credit unions accountable to members, and every decision made is made is in their best interests. Unlike profit-driven financial institutions focused on paying Wall St. stockholders, credit unions focus only on serving their Main St. members.
Helping Members Achieve Their Financial Goals
What does this mean? Financial value, for one. With no stockholders to pay, credit union members pay lower interest rates on loans and earn higher interest on their savings than they would if they banked with a profit-driven financial institution. Last year, for example:
- Oregon credit unions returned $133 million in direct financial benefit to their members, an average of $82 for each person who belongs to a credit union and $156 per credit union household;
- Washington credit unions returned $335 million in direct financial benefit to their members, an average of $104 for each person who belongs to a credit union and $198 per credit union household; and
- Idaho credit unions returned $71.5 million in direct financial benefit to their members, an average of $96 for each person who belongs to a credit union and $183 per credit union household.
With their cooperative, member-owned “DNA,” credit unions are more likely to offer the services consumers care about—new and used car loans, home equity loans, and small business loans to name a few. In fact:
- 66% of total mortgage applications from low to moderate income borrowers are approved by Oregon credit unions;
- 61.5% of total mortgage applications from low to moderate income borrowers are approved by Washington credit unions; and
- 66% of total mortgage applications from low to moderate income borrowers are approved by Idaho credit unions.
Credit unions cooperate, meaning their members can use a nationwide network of ATMs and shared branches, giving them access to their money almost anywhere, surcharge free.
Protect the Cooperative Choice
As the nation’s only member-owned, democratically controlled financial institutions, credit unions remain an extremely popular financial alternative for more than six million Northwest consumers.
*Source: Credit Union National Association, December 2016; ECONorthwest analysis, December 2016
For information on joining a credit union, visit the aSmarterChoice website.
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Credit Unions’ Financial Health
Like other financial institutions, credit unions are closely regulated and required to operate in a prudent manner. Your deposits are insured for amounts up to $250,000 by The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), or by private insurance, with higher coverage amounts possible on retirement accounts or depending on whether more than one person owns the fund in an account. Credit unions have never required taxpayer bailouts to remain viable, unlike other financial services industries.
Credit Union Governance
As financial cooperatives, credit unions are driven by the consumers who are their members. Every member has one vote, regardless of how much money or how many services they use. Unlike other financial institutions, credit unions are operated by a board of directors elected by the membership. If you’re interested in getting involved in your credit union’s governance, contact your credit union. Credit unions are often looking for interested members to serve on various committees as well as the credit union’s board of directors.
When there is a choice for consumers, the consumer wins. Access to a credit union is an important choice for us all. As a credit union member, you’re part of an organization. Your voice matters, your ideas are appreciated, and you become part owner of a vast pool of money that stays in your community.
As a credit union member, you would have the ability to change something you don’t like. Since credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, you can realistically become involved in the decision-making process for your credit union. You have an opportunity to be on the board of your credit union, something not even remotely possible at a bank, at least for the 99%. If you don’t want to become involved, that’s fine, too, but at least you know everyone is invested in the right decisions, because it’s their money too.