MADISON, Wis. (2/15/10)--Credit unions have been basking in the media limelight the past couple of weeks, not only nationally, but at the local level, too. Among the articles:
* "Credit unions grow stronger" in University of South Carolina's DailyGamecock.com reports that banks have been the center of attention "but what hasn't been in the news is an organization that might be a better alternative to a bank: a credit union." The article quotes a student who said, "I didn't even know there was an alternative to banks," and proceeds to outline the differences, with help from Karen Keisler, member service representative with 1st Cooperative FCU, Cayce, S.C. * "This Valentine's Day: Break Up with Wall Street," a column in the Huffington Post (Feb. 11) by Chuck Collins, co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good, notes people are taking their deposits to community banks and credit unions. He quotes Stacy Mitchell from Institute for Local Self-Reliance, who says most community banks and just over half of credit unions offer credit cards. "Unlike big banks, these smaller institutions do not view their credit cards as major profit centers, but rather as a service for customers." * "Would you break up with your bank?" in the Dollar & Sense column of the San Francisco Chronicle's blog offers advice from a grassroots group. A New Way Forward, which provides advice for breaking up with the big bank. The advice "is useful for anyone who's disgruntled by their bank and wants out." It advises moving money into a new account at a local bank or local credit union. "There are some compelling reasons to leave a bank--they've messed up your autopayment for your mortgage and nobody will admit to making a mistake, you're getting charged for the privilege of keeping your money in the bank, you just like the basic philosophy behind credit unions," the article says. * The New York Times article "The Least-Trusted Banks in America," which also notes credit unions' highest ranking among financial institutions, was picked up and featured prominently on Yahoo! It reported on the worst-trusted banks. In it the article noted that "Credit unions ranked much higher than the big banks, as they have in previous years, with 70% of credit union customers saying their financial institution puts their interests first. [Forrester Vice President Bill] Doyle said this is because of credit unions' different operating model-- they are owned by customers -- and because they tend to emphasize customer service." * Chicago Daily Herald ("Do credit unions offer better deals?") was the latest to pick up an Associated Press report on switching to a credit union credit card, which quotes Credit Union National Association statistics and a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts that said interest rates on credit union credit cards are lower than those issued at banks.