Saving for a house. Paying off debt. Sending a kid to college. Whatever your financial goals, where you keep your money is an important decision – and a personal one. No matter your goal, credit unions should always be your first consideration when selecting a financial institution.
When you’re considering a credit union, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
1. Do you want to be a customer or a member/owner?
While banks are business enterprises working to make money for their shareholders, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations. Credit unions don’t have customers; they have member-owners.
As a member, you are part of the ownership group. The benefit? Rather than driving a share price for stockholders, credit unions pass along their profits to their members in the form of:
- Lower fees
- Lower loan rates
- Better dividends on savings and checking accounts
- Free checking accounts
- Financial education and counseling programs
2. How much do you have to deposit?
Credit unions typically have lower minimum deposit levels than banks, making them ideal for those who want to open an account with a low initial balance (or keep a low running balance).
Along with lower deposit levels, credit unions typically have lower fees than banks. For example, in its 2013 Credit Union Checking Survey, Bankrate found that 72% of credit union checking accounts were free. That’s compared to just 39% for banks.
3. Do you use a credit card?
If you use a credit card and carry a balance from time to time, you’ll benefit from doing business with a credit union. That’s because credit cards offered through credit unions typically offer lower interest rates. You’re also likely to still reap benefits like reward points that can be redeemed for things like travel or retail gift cards.
Because of these lower rates, if you’re currently carrying a balance on a credit card, it will likely benefit you to transfer that money to a new credit card at a credit union. When you do, be sure to research balance transfer fees. SAC Federal Credit Union offers cards with no balance-transfer fees and a low rate for the first six months – perfect for paying off a balance on a higher-interest card.
4. Do you plan on making a large purchase?
If you’re planning to make a large purchase such as a house or a car, a credit union is a great choice. You’ll likely find that credit unions offer lower interest rates on auto loans and home mortgages. And SAC Federal Credit Union takes the mystery out of mortgages by offering a simplified application process with personal customer service to help you along the way.
Saving at a credit union makes sense, too. Credit unions offer higher dividends on savings vehicles from savings accounts to money market accounts to certificates. So, whether you’re saving for a house, a vacation or new patio furniture, you’ll reach your goals faster as a credit union member.
5. Is local development and involvement important to you?
It is to credit unions. Credit union members typically have something in common, like a community or employer, and as a result credit unions tend to be more community minded when it comes to investments.
In addition, credit union loan approvals and other key decisions are typically made by people who live in the community. These people have real, face-to-face relationships with members and have a good understanding of community needs. Due to their knowledge of the local area, credit unions are typically able to approve small business loans and other loans that bigger banks might reject.
So whether you like the commitment to community or you’re looking for the best rate on a loan, credit unions are worth a look. How do you decide which institution to trust your money to?
Wondering if SAC Federal Credit Union is the right choice for you? Contact Member Services at 402-292-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, you can request more information here.
What about ATMs?
- Credit unions typically have no ATM fees if you use participating locations.
- In general, even if you use a third party’s ATM, credit unions won’t charge you any fees on top of the third-party bank’s fee. SAC FCU will even reimburse third-party fees, too. Members with Saver’s Advantage Checking or High Yield Checking are eligible for up to $10 in reimbursements per month when account qualifications are met.* Members with Prestige, Free Value and Classic Checking are eligible for two ATM fee refunds per month.
- SAC FCU is a member of several ATM networks and offer more than 35,000 ATMs for members to use with no fee.
*Foreign ATM transactions do not include SAC FCU and Cash Corner transactions. Does not include surcharge imposed by the owner (other than SAC) of the ATM for Free Value, Classic, or Prestige accounts.