Who Can Join a Credit Union?
Join a credit union!
If you're looking to switch your financial institution, a credit union is an excellent choice. Many credit unions are local, so you'll be supporting the community where you live. Plus, you'll find great interest rates, low fees, and personalized service. As not-for-profits, credit unions are owned by their members, giving consumers greater flexibility and cost savings than traditional banks. But, for many, credit unions remain a bit of a mystery. What are the requirements? How do I join one? You have questions, and we have answers.
Why do Credit Unions Have Membership Requirements?
Credit unions are required by law to have a "field of membership." This field of membership is a specific group of people the credit union serves. Examples of field of membership include:
- Employee group
- Military and government agencies
The field or group can be broad or very narrow. For example, the Pentagon has its own credit union. Its field of membership is limited to people who work at the Pentagon or have ties to the military or federal government. A local school district may have a credit union that supports students, teachers, faculty, and family members within the district's boundaries. Or, a credit union may serve people who live, work, or worship within a stated geographic area. This requirement creates what is known as a common bond among members.
What is a Common Bond at a Credit Union?
Each credit union with its field of membership creates a group of people with something in common, a common bond. They work at the same factory, go to the same school or church, or are part of a military branch. Serving and supporting local communities is at the heart of credit unions. Having a common bond strengthens the credit union and supports the community at large.
How Do I Become a Member?
First, you'll need to find the credit union you'd like to join. Next, you'll fill out some paperwork to open an account (be sure to bring your driver's license or other forms of identification). Lastly, make a minimum deposit of $5. That's it! You may notice that credit union accounts are referred to as share accounts. That's because, as a member, you own a 'share' of the credit union. You are now part-owner of the credit union!
What Are the Benefits of Membership?
There are many benefits to being a credit union member. A few of the advantages include:
- Better rates on loans and savings accounts
- Lower fees on overdrafts and other charges
- Profits go back to members
- Personalized customer service
- Ability to vote on important decisions
- Democratically run business model
Do I Have to Join a Credit Union to Get a Loan There?
Say you found an excellent rate for a car loan at a credit union. You opened an account there to get that rate, but you love where you currently bank. Keep banking at your favored bank and maintain your car loan with the credit union. Even after you've paid off the loan, you can still keep the account open and remain a credit union member.
Join a Credit Union Today
Credit unions offer the same financial services and products that banks do. As a not-for-profit, cooperatively-run organization, credit unions can offer better rates, lower fees, and exceptional customer service. Find one in your area and see why more folks like you make credit unions their trusted financial partner.