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CUs help members banks help banks voter survey says
WASHINGTON (2/28/12)--A recent Credit Union National Association (CUNA) poll of voters has revealed that 77% of those surveyed believe banks charge too much for their services, and assess too many fees on their customers. This was an increase of six percentage points over 2011's number.

Credit unions fared much better in terms of voters' assessment of fees. Only 9% of respondents said credit union fees are too high. That was a decrease of two percentage points from the previous year, and 11% is the highest this total has been in the past nine years.

The majority of survey respondents continued to recognize the credit union difference, as 78% said that credit unions are owned and operated for the benefit of their members and 71% said that credit unions "look out for the little guy."

Only 14% of respondents said that banks seek to benefit their customers, and 15% said that banks "look out for the little guy."

Credit unions were also recognized as an excellent lending choice for low-income citizens, with 54% of voters surveyed saying that credit unions were more willing to work with their low-income members. This perception has remained steady since 2004, with around half of those surveyed acknowledging the positive work of credit unions in low-income communities.

The percentage of respondents that believe that banks work with low income people is significantly lower, totaling 20% this year and never exceeding the 27% total recorded in 2009.

CUNA's 2012 National Voter Survey drew responses from 1,000 randomly selected registered voters in locations nationwide. CUNA has conducted an annual voter survey since 1999.

Specific financial products were also addressed in the survey, as 51% said they would prefer a credit union for a small personal loan, 48% said they would use a credit union to take out a new car loan, and 50% said they would obtain a used car loan from a credit union. Banks received ratings of around 35% for all three of these categories.

The surveyed showed credit unions had some work to do to compete in other areas. Credit unions continued to trail banks when it comes to credit cards, home mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and other financial services.

However, credit unions have posted significant gains in recent years, posting seven percentage point increases over 2007's results for home mortgages and HELOCs, and smaller gains in other financial services categories.

Credit unions did not lose ground to banks in any of these categories.

The vast majority of those voters surveyed said that credit unions should be allowed to offer their higher level of service to more Americans, with 82% saying that credit unions should be "able to grow."

Overall, the survey shows credit unions have outshone banks in consumers' perceptions of safety and soundness with 40% of respondents to a recent poll saying they believe credit unions are the safest financial institutions. Thirty four percent said they felt banks were safest, and another 19% said both institutions were equally safe. (This is the second in a series of News Now articles on the results of CUNA's 2012 National Voters' Survey. See related Feb. 23 story: Survey shows continuing growth in CU reputation.)


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