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Credit Unions Come Out on Top

Jeremiah Tucker / February 10th, 2016

What’s the best place to bank in America?

Based on a recent study, one could reasonably argue it’s a credit union.

“Credit unions are among the highest-rated services we’ve ever evaluated, with 93% of their customers highly satisfied, on average, versus 69% for the four biggest national banks,” stated the reporting agency.

The reason, noted in the survey, is that credit unions emphasize superior customer service because as not-for-profit financial cooperatives, they are owned and managed by their members.

“Unlike profit-making banks, credit unions are tax-exempt,” the report stated. “Members usually have access to free checking, slightly higher interest rates on certificates of deposit, and significantly lower rates for credit cards and auto loans.”

Credit unions also save members more money. A study of all transactions and fees in more than 16,000 bank and credit union accounts found that credit union members pay annually only $71 each year for checking, while bank members pay $183.

Findings were based on a survey of 49,000 subscribers who provided more than 74,000 bank and credit union ratings. Along with credit unions, virtual banks also scored extremely well with customers, but as for-profit institutions, these primarily online organizations lack credit unions’ unique cooperative structure.

Beyond offering consumers a great deal, the uniqueness of credit union’s cooperative structure provides added benefit to the community via their core mission of service. “And while big banks romance well-to-do customers, credit unions reach out to help underserved communities,” the report stated.

The cons of credit unions, the report noted, include fewer branches than big banks and restrictions on membership, but the report also pointed out that members of 3,500 credit unions have access to account information and cash through the CO-OP network’s 30,000 fee-free ATMs.

And almost anyone is eligible to join a credit union somewhere. To find one near you, visit asmarterchoice.org



 

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