Credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit organizations that typically funnel all their gains to their members. As a result, they can offer numerous benefits like minimal fees, high deposit returns, and competitive loan rates. Because of these perks, these institutions are gaining popularity as alternatives to traditional banks.
If you plan to join an Ohio credit union or one in another region, selecting an institution that best suits your financial goals and situation is essential. Here are a few questions to ask when choosing a credit union.
Are you eligible to become a member?
Credit unions typically require you to meet specific criteria to become a member. Generally, these requirements include living in specific locations or being affiliated with particular schools, places of worship, or employers. Often, you can also join if you have a family member who’s part of the institution. Research credit unions in your area or those associated with your affiliations to see if you qualify for membership.
Do they have the products and services you need?
Like traditional banks, credit unions provide various financial products and services like deposit accounts, credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and more. Think about your financial needs and long-term goals, and identify which instruments you’ll use. Look for a credit union that has most of the services you require.
Can you get high yields on deposit accounts?
Credit unions are member-owned organizations, so they typically refer to their deposit account yields as dividends and often provide higher return rates than banks. Generally, the returns you receive depend on the account type, balance, and how long the funds have been deposited.
While years ago, deposit rates were typically below one percent, with credit unions providing yields closer to this figure than banks. But because of the prevailing market conditions, you can now find savings accounts and certificates of deposits (CDs) ranging from four to five percent. Search for credit unions with the most attractive rates, and take advantage of this opportunity for excellent passive income.
What are their fees and minimum balances?
Since credit unions are not-for-profit institutions, they typically charge lower fees—like those for monthly maintenance, ATM withdrawals, and overdrafts—than banks. They also feature lower minimum balance requirements on checking and savings accounts.
Fees can add up over time, making a significant dent in your wallet. Meanwhile, a low required balance can help you avoid account maintenance fees. So, examine carefully all the fees a credit union may charge. And check if they waive fees for specific products.
Do they provide competitive loan rates?
Credit unions are great options if you plan to secure a mortgage, auto, or business loan since they often provide competitive lending rates. However, doing your research is still crucial, as some might have higher rates than large banks. Securing the lowest possible interest rate can save you lots of money and make it easier to repay your loan.
Do they have special financing programs?
If you need a loan but don’t have a high enough credit score, you can find a credit union that offers special financing programs. These are designed to help borrowers with a limited credit history or those with unique financial circumstances gain financing. To be eligible for these programs, you must meet specific requirements—like being a member for a certain period or accomplishing financial education workshops.
Are the credit union’s accounts federally insured?
Economic downturns can affect any financial institution. That’s why choosing a credit union with federal insurance is crucial. The National Credit Union Association insures federal credit union deposits up to $250,000. Check on the NCUA’s website if the credit union you’re eyeing is federally insured. This way, you can ensure that the funds you deposit are protected.
Are their ATMs and branches accessible to you?
Another aspect to consider when selecting a credit union is the ease of access to ATMs and branches. Check if the institution you would like to join participates in shared branching and ATM networks. This system allows members of different credit unions to access their accounts and conduct transactions at partner locations nationwide without incurring additional fees.
Do they have user-friendly online and mobile banking platforms?
Access to user-friendly online and mobile banking platforms is essential in today’s digital age. This feature allows you to manage your finances conveniently. Ask people you know or check online if a credit union has excellent technology offerings.
Do they provide exceptional customer service?
Credit unions prioritize building solid relationships with their members, so exceptional customer service is among their strong points. But you must still check if a credit union you plan to join has good customer support to ensure a stress-free banking experience.
Read reviews from current members and get feedback from friends or family who may be members. You can also visit a branch or call the credit union’s customer service department to get a sense of their responsiveness and helpfulness.
Asking the right questions can be helpful if you plan to join an Ohio credit union or one in another region. Choosing the right financial institution can ensure a smooth banking experience and support that align with your financial needs and goals.