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More media coverage touting CUs
MADISON, Wis. (8/20/12)--Checking account fees and member business lending aren't the only positive publicity touting credit unions recently in the likes of Yahoo! Finance, Bankrate.com, New York Daily News, and Huffington Post. Savings accounts and member service also are garnering publicity, but in a different way. Members themselves--and some columnists--are taking the time to write first-person accounts of their positive experiences with credit unions.

For example, Yahoo! Finance (July 31) carried an op ed from contributor Kim Adams, entitled: "First Person: Credit Unions Fit My Financial Needs," in which she noted that "after exploring my financial institution options, I have made credit unions the mainstay of my financial life. To me, a credit union provides a far superior service at a fraction of the price of keeping money at a traditional bank."  She wrote of the frustrations of dealing with banks that "always were introducing new fees, new restrictive policies and had a complete lack of customer service."

Fivecentnickel.com (Aug. 7) columnist Jeffrey Steele recounted his experience in "Bank on the Advantages of Credit Unions." Steele discussed long waiting lines at his bank. "Long waits in bank lines are just one of the myriad complaints about today's impersonal, corporately bland financial institutions." He noted fee-crazy philosophies, loan decisions made from corporate headquarters overseas and the impersonality of the banking experience.

However, for those missing "old-fashioned banking values, you may be able to find them once more at your friendly local credit union," Steele wrote, citing credit unions' not-for-profit structure and higher savings yields, lower average loan interest rates and lower and fewer fees. "In other words, they're a better deal than banks."

Steele interviewed Credit Union National Association (CUNA) senior economist Mike Schenk, who noted that the average rate on a five-year, new-car loan at credit unions was 3.1% while at a bank the rate was 4.51%. A $30,000 car loan at a credit union would save the member $250 per year, or $1,225 over the five-year span of the loan, Schenk told him.  Schenk also noted that many barriers to becoming a member of a credit union are gone.  Steele pointed readers to CUNA's and the leagues' website, www.asmarterchoice.org.

Other articles touting credit unions:

  • "Six steps to ditch your bank without fees and hassle" in Yahoo! Finance and HuffingtonPost.com (Aug. 7).  Brandon Ballenger of Money Talks News noted the "switching banks" trend and offered suggestions for switching banks with a minimum of effort. One tip was to comparison shop.  "Don't overlook credit unions, either. They often offer higher savings rates and lower loan rates than the megabanks. Search for them at the Credit Union [National] Association site."
  • "What to look for in credit union checking" in Yahoo!Finance and Bankrate.com (Aug. 13).  Heather Larson noted there's a credit union for everyone, citing statistics from CUNA. Larson interviewed credit unions, the Massachusetts Credit Union League, and financial services experts. Tips included: Look for convenience, investigate shared branching, ask about (financial) education opportunities, inquire about technology, check for stability, demand personalized service and insist on fraud protection.  Bruce McClary, spokesman for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions in Seattle, told Larson that credit unions have more stability than banks because they have a stronger relationship with their members.
  • "Check out credit unions" in New York Daily News (Aug. 14). "If you are sick and tired of bank fees, there may be a solution--credit unions," said Phyllis Furman, in writing about a recent study that showed 72% of the nation's 50 largest credit unions offered free checking while only 45% of banks did.
  • "The Types of Savings Accounts: Which is Right for You?" in WiseBread.com (Aug. 6).  Author Matt Bellon outlines options for getting the most out of savings accounts. Under "Options for Better Rates," he listed credit unions. "Because credit unions are not-for-profit organizations, they too, usually offer better rates than brick-and-mortar banks." He wrote more credit unions "are loosening their membership requirements. The Credit Union National Association can help you find a credit union near you that you may be able to join."
  • "Credit unions still honorable," a letter to the editor of The State (Aug. 9) from Randall W. Robinson, president, South Carolina National Guard FCU, Columbia, S.C. Robinson noted that "the public ratings of bankers have declined dramatically" due to the financial collapse and the economy. "There is some merit to that. But I continue to believe that banking is an honorable profession. In financial institutions across America, there exists the same passion and honesty exhibited by a small-town banker more than 40 years ago. These financial institutions are called credit unions."
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