Credit Unions Take on Big Banks
It's been one of the worst years on record for the financial-services industry -- the financial group of the S&P 500 has plunged 28%. Big banks are buying back bad debt, as in Bank of America's recent deal with Massachusetts. As a result, many banks are hiking fees to make up for billions of dollars in losses. Credit unions, having escaped the financial crisis, are chipping away at their larger rivals' customer base. They offer what most consumers need: good rates, low risks and personal service.
If you are considering switching to a credit union, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Credit unions have restricted membership, meaning you can join only if you meet their criteria, which typically includes one or more of the following: working for a particular company, living in a designated town or county, or belonging to a specific organization.To find a credit union near you, visit the Credit Union Coop. You can also search the database of insured credit unions on the National Credit Union Administration's Web site. (The NCUA is the independent agency that charters and supervises federal credit unions. It insures credit union deposits up to $100,000, much the same way the FDIC insures bank deposits.) Once you find a few credit unions near you, check their membership criteria. Account minimums sometimes are only $1. Not-for-profit status Since a credit union is owned by its members and run as a nonprofit, you don't have to worry about third-party interests. (At publicly traded banks, for example, those third parties are often shareholders looking for big returns.) While you still run the risk of dealing with a lousy loan officer -- just like any business, credit unions aren't immune to staff problems -- credit unions have fewer incentives to shoehorn consumers into inappropriate loans. As a result, you're more likely to have a frank discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of a particular loan than at a bank that needs to watch its bottom line.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV