Advantages Of A Credit Union Over A Bank
Credit unions and banks look similar when you’re passing them on the street. Inside, both kinds of institutions are in the business of handling money, and both offer similar products, such as savings accounts, checking accounts and loans. Despite these similarities, a bank and a credit union such as Wailuku Federal Credit Union differ in several important ways, including their basic mission, structure, and relationship to the community. Here are five ways credit unions differ from banks, and the advantages that those differences create and deliver.
1. Credit Unions Serve Specific Communities
Most banks serve a broad population of people over a wide physical area, while credit unions are focused on serving a particular “field of membership.” Some credit unions are established by employers, and some are open to members of a particular group, such as a labor union, a school, or a place of worship. In addition, many credit unions, such as Wailuku Federal Credit Union, serve a specific geographic region. Wailuku Federal Credit Union’s “field of membership” includes those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Wailuku, as well as their immediate families.
2. Credit Unions Can Offer More Personalized Service
Since credit unions focus their services on a specific community, and are often headquartered locally, they can offer more personalized service. For example, Wailuku Federal Credit Union’s employees are recognizable to their members. Therefore, they understand the specific challenges and benefits of living in Wailuku, just like the employees of credit unions for teachers or Navy veterans have a heightened understanding of the needs of those particular groups.
As a result, employees are better able to work with the Central Maui community and provide financial education and outreach to the community. Wailuku Federal Credit Union’s money stays local, too, as the cooperative nature of credit unions means the membership community sustains itself – for example, the savings of one member becomes a loan for another.
3. Credit Unions are Not-for-Profits Run by their Members
Banks are built to make a profit for their executives and stockholders. As such, they are not naturally customer-focused. Credit unions like Wailuku Federal, on the other hand, are not-for-profit institutions. This allows credit unions to turn their attention to better serving their membership communities.
Members are also owners – when they deposit money they are also buying shares in the credit union. As a result, the members of a credit union are actually the ones making the decisions. Unlike a bank, which is run by a president or a board, members of a credit union vote to elect a group of volunteers to represent their interests. The members democratically work to serve one another by turning any profits to their collective interests in the form of lower fees and better rates.
4. Credit Unions Typically Offer Better Rates
Being a not-for-profit institution, a credit union like Wailuku Federal Credit Union is able to offer rates and fees that a for-profit bank often can’t or won’t. Specifically, credit unions can usually offer members higher rates on savings accounts and lower rates on loans and credit cards. In Wailuku Federal Credit Union’s case, this means more money in its members’ pockets, more opportunity for members’ personal and small business growth, and more benefit for the entire community of Wailuku.
5. Credit Unions Often Have Fewer Rules and Restrictions
Credit unions like Wailuku Federal Credit Union are often much more flexible than banks. Being for-profit, banks have to find ways to collect fees whenever possible, including those times when minimum account balances are not met. In fact, banks frequently raise minimum balance requirements in order to ensure their own profits. Credit unions, on the other hand, are more likely to eliminate products or services to lower or cut costs, rather than adding or raising fees for members. Most credit unions have minimal balance requirements, or none at all. For example, once you open a checking account at Wailuku Federal Credit Union, you don't need to worry about getting hit with a fee – there’s no minimum balance required.
Banks versus Credit Unions
Though banks and credit unions offer many of the same products and services, the structure and mission of a credit union ties it directly to a specific community in a powerful way. While a bank can be part of the community, a credit union like Wailuku Federal Credit Union is the community. The people of Wailuku are its members and its voice. This gives them a direct say in their own financial prosperity and allows them to better impact the place and people they call home.