Are you interested in an alternative option to banks?
A place where you can deposit your money or take out a loan, while having a say in the company and supporting your community?
Then consider joining a credit union along with 120 million other Americans.
What is a Credit Union?
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A credit union is a licensed financial institution, similar to a bank. Unlike banks, credit unions are member-owned, with membership limited to persons who meet eligibility requirements, and are, typically, community-focused.
What do they offer?
Saving and checking accounts
How Does a Credit Union Differ from a Bank?
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While credit unions are similar to banks, engaging in financial transactions like deposits and loans, there are some differences
Members have voting rights on credit union decisions as shareholders
Eligibility requirements to enroll
Better interest rates and lower fees
Often smaller and local, meaning more community focus
Offers more personalized services
Profits go to shareholders (investors), not you (the customer)
Fewer requirements for joining
More locations and access to ATMs
More products and services
Better online and mobile services
Sarah is looking to take out a loan to start a small local business. She's new to owning a business and taking out loans. Which option might be best for Sarah to explore?
Finding the Right One!
Finding a credit union (or bank) can be overwhelming, but by making a list of your requirements, and those of the credit union's, you can easily narrow your options down.
Research credit unions in your area. The National Credit Union Association's (NCUA) website lets you search for credit unions by location. While credit union membership is often based on location, there are many options that are available from anywhere in the US.
Check their eligibility and application requirements. Eligibility requirements and application processes may vary depending on the credit union. You may need to pay a small fee to open an account or deposit a minimum amount.
Check out their offered services. Services offered by credit unions differ depending on the credit union and its membership base.
Joining a Credit Union
To join a credit union, you must fit into their "field of membership".
These requirements are typically based on:
residence in a specific community or area
employed by a specific company or industry (for example, the government)
a shared common background (such as ex-military or religious affiliation)
To apply (online or in person), you'll generally need to provide a few documents. These may vary between credit unions. Generally, you'll need:
A government issued ID such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or Social Security card
A second form of identification such as a bill with your name
Your Social Security number to report interest earned for tax purposes
Any information that identifies you fit in the field of membership, such as an employment agreement or proof of address
If you're under 18, you may need a parent or guardian to be a joint owner of your account, or they may need to co-sign for some services.
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