If you found yourself complaining about the “Too Big To Fail Banks” and still have your money at one of the TBTF banks, then you, my friend, have lost the right to complain. If you want to remedy that, or if you simply want better rates, then a credit union is a fantastic almost-perfect substitute for a commercial bank.
The key difference between a credit union and a commercial bank is that the depositors and borrowers of a credit union are its shareholders. With a commercial bank, the shareholders are the owners of its public stock or investors in the corporation. When the credit union counts you as a shareholder, it gives you better rates on your deposits (high yield savings accounts may still offer higher rates) and better rates on your loans. Finally, credit unions are NCUA insured up to $250,000, just like commercial banks and the FDIC, so your money is safe.
The main trade off is that credit unions are smaller and so they lack the enormous geographic footprint of much larger banks.
So how do you find a good credit union?
According to the website SimplePayday, credit unions are required by law to limit membership. The membership is generally limited to an association, such as your workplace, or a geographic region, a county or municipality.
Places to look:
Credit unions exist to help its members. Commercial banks exist to enrich their shareholders.
You read that right. Credit unions are unions that exist to help its members. That’s why they often have better interest rates on both loans and deposits. Commercial banks are businesses. Their sole purpose is to figure out how to make more money from its customers (you!). Interest rates are often very low (or nonexistent), loan rates are often competitive, and they always try to sell you new products because you are a customer.
Credit unions, by law, have to have membership requirements. Credit unions are often tied to a geographic area or particular group, so as long as you qualify you can join. The Pentagon Federal Credit Union is one of the better known credit unions, because of their once mighty CD rates (still competitive if you look 3+ year terms), and if you weren’t active/retired military or worked in defense, you could be eligible to join just by joining the National Military Families Association. So there are membership rules, but there are ways around them and here are ten reasons why you should try to find a way: