What Is A Credit Union & How Do I Join?
What Is A Credit Union?
You’ve probably heard about credit unions . . . nearly everyone has. As a matter of fact, more people are joining credit unions today than any other form of financial services institution. That’s because credit unions are People Places! A credit union is a financial cooperative. People who share a common bond, such as their church or their place of employment, join together in a non-profit association for the purpose of doing business with one another. They save their money in a common fund, borrow those funds with the low cost loans, and receive other financial services at little or no cost. Credit unions are not credit bureaus, labor unions, loan companies, or finance houses! They are financial institutions incorporated under state or federal laws to provide financial services to their members.
Who Owns The Credit Union?
A credit union belongs to its members. When you open an account at a credit union, you become one of the owners of your cooperative institution, and as such, you are entitled to a say in how the credit union is run. The board of directors which sets policy for the credit union is elected from the membership. Each member receives one vote in selecting these directors, regardless of the amount of money he or she might have in the credit union. You can nominate someone for the board of directors, vote for the candidates of your choice, and even run for office yourself. Each year at the credit union’s annual meeting, the board reports to the membership, new board members are installed, and other business affecting the credit union is discussed and acted upon.
How Are Credit Unions Regulated?
Credit unions operate under either state or federal charter, and the books and records are inspected regularly by the appropriate governmental supervisory agency. State and federal law and regulations assure that all credit unions operate within defined guidelines. Credit unions are also required by law to have regular examinations of their records and operations by an independent source, with the findings reported to the board of directors.
Are My Funds Safe In A Credit Union?
All credit unions must insure a member’s deposit up to $100,000. Ohio credit unions insure these funds through either the National Credit Union Association (NCUA), an agency of the federal government, or the National Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), a private insurer. Both of these insurers are recognized as the strongest insurance funds available for member deposits, stronger than either the banks’ FDIC insurance or the savings and loans’ FSLIC. In addition, credit unions are required to maintain a surety bond to protect all members against unforeseeable loss. Credit unions are also required by law to place a percentage of earnings in reserve to protect against uncollectible loans. What these requirements mean to you is that your money is absolutely safe in a credit union, up to the insured limit of $100,000.
If Credit Unions Are Non-Profit, How Do I Earn?
Credit unions exist not to make a profit for outside stockholders, but to provide services and benefits to their members. This means that after expenses and required reserves have been met, the earnings of the credit union are returned to members in the form of dividends. Credit unions are usually able to offer higher dividend rates and lower rates on loans and services than other financial institutions because their financial return is used for the benefit of the membership. “Not for profit, not for charity, but for service,” is the credit union motto.
Why Should I Join A Credit Union?
Credit unions are People Places! They care! Each year, unbiased research (i.e., Consumer Reports magazine) shows that consumers are far happier with the personal service available from credit unions than with other financial alternatives. That’s because credit unions are MEMBER-OWNED. An example of this personal attention is loan processing. Because credit union members save together and lend their funds to others who share their common bond, the character of the individual is the first consideration in deciding on loan applications. Credit unions often provide financial services, including loans, to people who cannot obtain those services elsewhere. And, because your credit union cares about your financial success, services like money management counseling and youth programs to encourage young people to develop good saving habits are often available. That’s because at your credit union, you’re not just a customer, you’re a member. You will also find that credit unions often offer more than just traditional financial services. Programs like payroll deduction and direct deposit, for instance, can help you to begin a regular habit of saving. REMEMBER . . . a credit union is your safest, fastest, friendliest, most economical source of credit and financial services. Why not join, or encourage a family member to join, the millions of others who have discovered the benefits of credit unions? Become a member today.