Credit unions - What kinds of problems you may face as a member?

There are so many positive sides of credit unions – less fees, low rates on loans, free workshops on finances, etc. Credit unions appeal to the middle-class people. After all, credit unions were primarily founded to help the small depositors instead of the stinking rich people. However, some credit unions are unable to fulfill the complex financial requirements of the people as they only offer basic savings and checking accounts. In this respect, traditional financial institutions such as banks are ahead of the credit unions.

Check out some major problems you may face as a member of a credit union. Think about these problems before switching from a bank to a credit union.

1. Some credit unions charge penalty fees: The fee structure of all the credit unions is not same. Different credit unions charge different fees from the members. So, do go through the fine print section of the contract before becoming a member of a credit union.

Some credit unions in the country charge penalty fees. Recently, a credit union in Illinois imposed early withdrawal penalties on some specific certificates of deposit. So, beware of the penalties while banking with credit unions.

2. Credit unions don’t have several branches: If you're accustomed to do banking in every corner of the country, then credit unions are not the right choice for you. Usually, credit unions have limited number of consumers. So several small credit unions are only located at one region. You won’t be able to do your banking activities outside that region.

3. You may not get technologically advanced services: Around 50 percent of the credit unions didn’t even have $19 million in assets in the year 2011. The small size of the credit unions implies that you may not get technologically advanced services such as smartphone mobile banking applications. However, many of them do offer services like online banking. So, at least, you can check your account statements online.

The size of the credit union matters a lot. Large credit unions have huge funds. They have money to offer mobile banking facilities and long banking hours. For instance, some credit unions offer services to consumers 24/7. You can just forget about banks and other financial institutions when you get these kinds of services from credit unions.

4. Credit unions have limited savings offerings: Usually, credit unions try to maintain a low operating cost so that members can get good interest rates on their deposits. However, some credit unions earn less than the traditional banks. They have limited money market and savings options.

You may get only a single type of savings and money market account in a credit union. So, better think wisely before choosing a credit union.

Like most financial institutions, credit unions also want to reap profits. They do offer investment products to consumers. However, these products are not always good deals for consumers. Some of the products like expensive mutual funds and annuities are very bad. So, if you really want to buy investment products from a credit union, then do check out the total product cost before jumping into the investment bandwagon.

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