Traditionally, banks are what most people tend to depend on for their daily financial needs, from drawing drafts to depositing checks and getting loans. In the last few years though, banks have earned themselves a somewhat shady reputation for raising fees on short notice and doing away with essential features on checking accounts. Now, financial advisers and experts are asking people to consider an attractive alternative to banks in the form of credit unions.
Credit Unions are per definition non-profit organizations and as such the money generated by its activity is returned to the union’s members in the form of reduced fees and interest rates on loans, higher rates of return on savings, etc. Although Credit Unions do have their excellent set of advantages and perks, there are a few things that must necessarily be considered before choosing to sign up with a particular one.
Customer Service quality – The credit union industry outshines not just banks, but all other industries when it comes to customer service. Off site call centers are often contracted to fluidly take care of the huge volume of support calls. Moreover, credit unions offer a more personal touch when it comes to customer service, making your experience even more rounded.
Location – Although some might argue that there are more bank branches than credit union locations through the country, credit unions more thank make up for it through innovative solutions. A large number of credit unions operate on a shared network wherein you can go into a credit union completely different from the one you are a member of but still be able to do your general transactions. There are also more than 28,000 surcharge free shared network ATMs across the country.
Technology – Banks have the upper hand in this sector since the large financial backing enables them to adapt to new technology better and faster. You can access your bank account through your mobile phone on the go while dealing with credit unions might have you working with outdated technology which might suffer from serious functionality and security issues. Although banks are better armed, credit unions are slowly catching up and what they cannot make up for with iPhone apps, they do it with better rates and lower fees.
Financial Advice – Banks usually maintain a large staff wherein there are various people appointed to hand out investment advice pertaining to stocks and shares. These individuals are highly educated and obviously maintain a good earnings record and portfolio. Being a for-profit organization, banks are always looking to sell products and investment instruments instead of actually advising the client. On the other hand, credit unions being non-profit organizations are not looking to make money and therefore the financial advisory staff generally doles out quality conservative investment advice without any ulterior profit making motives.
Every financial organization does have its own sets of pros and cons but given the financially tough times the nation and its people are going through, a more conservative approach to wards managing money through credit unions looks safer for conservative investors as well as anybody looking to find a cheaper but equally effective replacement for banks.