What is a Credit Union?

A credit union is a member-owned, financial cooperative, democratically controlled by its members, and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, while providing loans at competitive rates, and providing financial services to its members. Credit unions are a better option for consumers – just look at the facts!

10 Benefits of Credit Unions 1. Profits Returned to Members. For-profit banks and many other lending institutions generally have a small number of shareholders looking to make a profit. Credit unions have no stockholders, and by contrast, return profits to their members in the form of dividends, lower fees, lower interest rates on loans, and better rates on deposits. Credit unions do not have customers, they have members, and the members own the institution.

2. Democratic Process. At a credit union, the board of directors is elected by the membership. One person equals one vote, regardless of the amount of money invested in the credit union. The members on the board of directors are volunteers who have committed to serving the entire membership. Unlike banks, credit union members have a direct say in who is elected to run the credit union – and ultimately, a voice in how the credit union is run.

3. Lower Fees. Credit unions are able to keep fees at a minimum because they are not focused on making a profit. Credit unions in North and South Dakota generally charge lower fees overall for savings and checking accounts, wire transfers, safe deposit boxes, bill pay, and more.

4. Better Interest Rates on Loans. Since credit unions are not focused on profits, you can find some of the best loan rates at a credit union.

5. Credit Unions Help Small Business. Credit unions have a history of providing credit to small businesses. The cooperative model that credit unions were built upon creates an environment that embraces the small business owner. Credit unions are often willing to make small or “micro” loans that bigger banks and other lending institutions deny.

6. Credit Unions Believe in Community. Unique to the financial world, the credit union mission is to provide a safe place for members to save and borrow at reasonable rates. The credit union motto is “Not for profit, not for charity, but for service.” Credit unions are well known for their “people-helping- people” philosophy, which you can see demonstrated in the numerous community charitable activities and worthwhile causes that credit unions and their employees support every day.

7. More Flexibility. Credit unions, with their member-focused philosophy, are willing to work with you, even if you have had a troubled financial past. With a long history of helping those who could not get credit elsewhere, credit unions offer financial education, counseling, and can help with improving credit scores- often at no cost to their members.

8. Credit Unions Lead in Member Satisfaction. Credit unions lead the way within the financial industry when it comes to member satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). In 2011, credit unions received the highest score ever reached by any of the ACSI’s 47 industries - an astounding score of 87 on a scale of zero to 100 – a score that tripled credit unions’ ACSI lead over banks. Credit unions members know we are a friendly place to do banking, but it’s nice to hear it from an independent source.

9. Credit Unions Are Safe and Trustworthy. Credit union deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to at least $250,000 - just like the FDIC. No taxpayer funds have ever been used to bail out a credit union. In fact, credit unions are poised to assist in economic recovery and have money to lend.

10. Easy to Join. While credit unions do have some limits regarding who can join, with over 7000 credit unions nationwide, virtually everyone has one or more credit unions they can join. .

Find a Credit Union
Myth: Credit unions have too many membership restrictions, making it difficult to join.

Fact: While legal statutes do require that credit unions maintain some level of “membership commonality,” it is easy to find a credit union that you can join. Many credit unions today have broad fields of membership that can be as simple as where you live, work, worship, or attend school within a specific geographical region. There is a credit union that you can join closer to you than you think!

Myth: Credit unions don’t have all of the services that banks offer.

Fact: Credit unions are full service financial institutions that provide the entire gamut of financial products and services - loans, checking, savings, investments, and electronic services such as online banking, bill payments, ATMs, debit cards, and mobile services.

Myth: Credit unions are not as convenient as banks.

Fact: Credit unions are more convenient than ever. Through a network of thousands of credit unions, members are able to conduct business easily, wherever they are. Credit union members can have ATM cards linked to a network that eliminates surcharge fees. These ATMs are in convenient locations across the Dakotas, and across the country. Many credit unions offer ATM cards with access to networks that provide over 800,000 ATMs nationwide.

Myth: Credit unions charge a fee to join.

Fact: Credit unions generally do not charge a “fee” to join. It is true that many credit unions require new members to provide a minimum deposit to join, but this is far from a “fee”. The minimum deposit is often as low as $5, and should the account be closed, 100 percent of funds are returned.

Ready to find a credit union in your neighborhood? There’s one closer than you think!