Credit Unions


The 4 Top Considerations for Choosing a Bank that Meets Your Needs

Choosing a bank is a big decision. After all, this is the start of a relationship with the institution that will help you manage your finances for a long time to come. A misstep here could cost you a lot of money over the long haul. Conversely, making the right choice could help grow your money and save you a ton of headaches. So how do you make sure you’re choosing the right bank? There are plenty of factors that influence your choice but the two primary ones are personal recommendations and convenient locations. However, the most important thing when choosing a bank is making sure it’s the right one for you. Before you make any decisions, make sure that you evaluate these key factors.

Factor #1: Do You Need a Brick and Mortar Location?

Many of today’s banks no longer have brick and mortar locations. Instead, they exist entirely online. In order to make deposits, you simply set up automatic deposits into your account or scan checks into an app on your phone. It’s a simple, streamlined process that makes it easy to access your money at any time of the day. If you do encounter problems, your online banking institution will provide customer service to help you sort things out. What most people don’t realize is that online banks often have fewer fees and better rates for loans since they don’t have the expenses associated with keeping a physical location up and running. However there are several key advantages to a brick and mortar location:

  • It’s easier to develop a personal relationship with the people handling your money since you can see them face to face
  • Many people find it easier to have conversations and solve problems with a person sitting across from them
  • Physical banks are less cumbersome for cash transactions, especially cash deposits

If you do opt for a brick and mortar bank over an online-only institution, make sure they have locations close to your home or office. If you travel frequently, you may also want to consider a bank with a wide range of locations across the country.

Factor #2: Do You Want a Regional Location or a Local Bank?

National bank, regional bank, or community bank: how do you decide? Each one has its own advantages. A community bank, for example, typically stays small. They’re just the right size for the community they serve and are designed to create a more personal environment where you can get to know your banker. Community banks are often less focused on profit, since they continue to prioritize other values. Small banks may be able to offer rates and options that you wouldn’t be able to get on loans from larger banks, but they may also not have as much freedom in their bylaws regarding the loans they can offer. As banks get larger, however, they offer greater lending potential, a wider range of services, and larger branches. It’s important to carefully consider which of these is more important to you when you’re choosing a bank.

Factor #3: Do You Want a Bank or a Credit Union?

Credit unions are typically local facilities. They’re usually created by specific local areas, institutions, or businesses in order to support their members. Credit unions often offer key financial advantages including lower fees for using the bank and higher interest on your interest-earning accounts. Because they are local, however, credit unions tend to only have branches in local areas. They may also be slower to roll out new apps and other technology that will improve your banking convenience. Credit unions, like other local banks, can often create a deeper relationship with their users, but larger banks can provide a wider range of services.

Factor #4: What Features Do You Need From Your Bank?

As you’re choosing a bank, you need to carefully consider the features that are most important to you. Before you create an account, it’s also important to understand exactly what you need from your bank and whether or not the bank you’re considering is the right institution for you. Some important features may include:

  • No fees associated with your checking account. In some cases, your bank may offer free checking if you use automatic deposit for your paycheck or if you keep a certain minimum balance in your account.
  • A lack of overdraft fees. This is especially useful if you’d like to link your savings account to your checking account, which will help prevent minor overdraft incidents from adding up to serious expense.
  • Free ATMs. You shouldn’t be charged to access your own money! It’s also helpful to find a bank that will provide free ATM usage if you have to use another bank’s ATM.
  • Online bill pay. This will allow you to take care of your bills each month without having to stress about when each payment is due.
  • A secure, trustworthy app. An app that you can trust and that will allow you to take care of the bulk of your banking needs in the palm of your hands is essential.

The Bottom Line

There is a wide range of factors that go into a choosing a bank. As you’re considering your options, make sure that you carefully consider all the factors that are most important to you. While there may be some features that you can do without right now, you’ll want to carefully consider which ones you’ll need in the foreseeable future as well. You want a bank that will grow with you – whether you’re opening your first account before you head off to college or combining accounts with a new spouse. As you choose your bank, make sure that you consider your needs not only today but for many years in the future so that you’ll be happy for years to come.

Credit Unions vs Banks: Which one to choose?

The debate over credit unions vs banks in terms of money savings capabilities and additional benefits have been going on forever. Though banks require larger fees and in some or other way getting you to lose more and save less, people are desperately considering other financial institutions that can help them save their hard earned money without being ripped off ethically. A credit union and bank have certain similarities in terms of being financial institutes that offer savings accounts, loans and credit/debit cards with the major difference being that credit unions are solely cooperative that are owned and operated by its members only plus being non-profit organizations, they offer higher interest rates on your savings and lesser on loan amounts and

There are always some pros and cons associated with one financial institution whether its a bank or a credit union.

Which one to go for – Credit unions vs banks? Consider the following facts first-

Advantages of a credit union:

1. Higher Interest Rates
Credit unions mostly employ centric, offers a higher interest rate on your hard earned savings as compared to the traditional banks. Only online banks can compete with their interest rates which are rather high, almost 4 to 10 %. All the savings, checking or MMA associated with the credit unions offers higher interest rates making them one of the best option to choose for savings for that hard time.

2. Superior service providers
Being employ centric, credit unions are maintained and run by the members only. Thus, they focus on providing affordable financial solutions to their members and not to rip them off for the unions’ own advantages. This is one of the reasons for a great customer satisfaction and more enrollments.

3. Lower fees and lower interest on loans
The low APRs available on the loans such as car loans or home loans or mortgages often allow the members of the unions to pay little interest making them deal with the finances much better. Their credit card fees are also less as compared to traditional banks as well as low APRs make them much desirable when compared with the interest rates the banks offer. Coming to the yearly fees of credit unions vs banks, credit unions often allows free checks, e-transfers or withdrawals with no monthly fees in contrast to the traditional banks.

4. Better service and flexibility
Credit unions having lesser branches often allows the customers to get robust customer services and deal with their issues on a more personal level while banks do not have much time. Moreover, banks often require a suitable credit history to make you eligible for a loan while on the other hand, credit unions can help you get a loan even with a bad credit history based on your good and trustful membership status among the union.

5. Fewer complications and more focus
Banks being one of the financial centers that consider the management’s profits first often charges higher interest rates on loans and gives lesser interest on savings. Moreover, the free services offered are only free if you follow certain rules and regulations. But, credit unions are solely focused on their member’s profits and being member-centric it is a group advantage, thus serving lower interest rates on loans and larger on savings.

Disadvantages of Credit Union:

1. Lesser branches
Credit unions usually have lesser physical branches thus making it difficult for the customers to manage withdrawals, check deposits etc. They work on smaller scales as compared to the traditional banks thus causing a physical inconvenience to its members to manage every day to day tasks. Also, they have lesser ATMs as compared to the banks making it difficult for the emergency withdrawals.

2. Online services
The debate over credit unions vs banks always get unhealthy when it comes to online support. This is a technological era and mostly all the banks have all the services available online for their customer’s convenience like managing the accounts, paying bills, transferring the money etc. When it comes to credit unions, being a small scale organization, they do not have much online presence and tools for managing your accounts.

Do check out our blog post on Money Market Accounts vs Saving Accounts.

Best Credit Unions of 2018

Credit Unions are a kind of non-profit organizations that are owned by a particular group of members. Best Credit Unions of 2018 are the ones that offer financial loans, lower returns of deposits to all its de-facto owners. They are commonly known as “financial co-operatives”. They basically range from small groups to the ones owned by the largest organizations for the mere benefits of their employees. The members or the employees are the sole in charge of everything that the union offers or decides. The credit unions are actually based on a single principle of pooling money from all the members which are further used to offer loans and other financial services to each other. They differ from banks in the aspect that they are not under any pressure of generating maximum profits thus ensuring low-interest rates and better financial solutions. Though, the rules of joining the credit unions are much stricter than joining a bank.

Some of the best credit unions of 2018 are:

1. Alliant Credit Union
Alliant Credit Card differs from every other credit union out there with its broad options for memberships as well as financial services at a low rate. You only need a minimum of $5 balance for opening an account and a donation of minimum $10 to the Foster Care to Success for joining the Union. They offer 1.30% APY High-Rate Savings Account on a minimum balance of $100 which is perfect for a larger savings account. There are no monthly account fees as well as no ATM fees. Though, you have to pay $20 for account checking. You get the benefits of free bill payments, free credit score access to plenty of budgeting tools at your disposal. They have a robust customer service and is one of the strongest choices for internet checking accounts. You can also make electronic deposits.

2. Consumers Credit Union
It is one of the best credit unions of 2018 in terms of offering highest interest rates. You can earn up to 3.09% APY on balances up to $10,000, 3.59 % APY up to $15,000 and 4.59% APY on balances up to $20,000. All you have to do is a complete minimum of 12 Debit/Check Card point-of-sale purchases, make direct deposits each month, use consumers Credit Union to pay the bills online, access online banking once in a month. You will be offered a higher amount if you add more than $500 bucks to the CCU Visa Credit Card purchase transactions. You can even get additional benefits by applying for a Consumers Credit Union Credit Card. Their online presence is the best thing making this credit union popular among many. You can actually operate your account without any kind of location dependency. It charges a minimum $5 of account balance with no annual fees.

3. Lake Michigan Credit Union
Lake Michigan Credit Union allows you to earn 3% APY on a minimum account balance of $15,000. They offer highest interest rates as compared to the other credit unions, all you have to do is make 1 direct deposit within a month, make use of their online banking system, sign up for eStatements and make a minimum of 10 purchases through your credit card. They require a minimum of $5 account balance for account opening and charges $0 monthly access fees. You will be charged $1 for every non-network ATM. Though, you will be offered $15 in reimbursements for the charges you have to pay at the 3rd party ATMs. they have more than 40 branch offices and near to 100 ATMs and anyone can become a member.

4. Digital Credit Union
For the ones looking for best credit unions of 2018 that can offer much better interest rates on your savings. You can earn up to 5.12% APY on the first $750 bucks saved in your account. It also offers a $40 of interest on your savings if you maintain the minimum amount of $750 throughout the year. Anyone who donated a minimum of $10 to the non-profit organization associated with the credit union can become a member. There is no additional cost required to join the union and they charge $0 of the monthly fees. Though you have to pay $1.50 for non-branch ATM activity this credit union is perfect for the ones with a low balance and wanting to save more.

Do check out our blog post on How to choose the best credit card for you.