MADISON, Wis. (5/15/13)--In the 11th of a 12-part "Head to Head" series of articles, Business Insider Tuesday pitted credit unions versus big banks and asked: "Where Should You Put Your Money?" The verdict? Credit unions.
The publication isn't alone in pointing out the value of credit unions. King5.com, Seattle's CBS affiliate, also focused on the cooperative difference in a segment Monday entitled "Credit Unions Vs. Traditional Banks."
The Business Insider discussed pros and cons of credit unions versus banks in four areas: accessibility, fees, interest rates, customer service. Credit unions won three of the four. On the fourth--accessibility--the best the banks got was a "draw." Here's a sampling:
Accessibility: Credit unions are meant to serve local communities so they might not have as many ATMs but they compensate by offering surcharge-free banking.
Fees: "Big banks are notorious for levying major fees against customers for everything from overdrafts to monthly maintenance fees and they've only gotten worse." The article cited a MoneyRates.com survey showing an 18-cent increase in banks' average monthly fees, and Bankrate.com's survey indicating 70% of the largest credit unions offer free checking while 5% of banks do. "Hands down, credit unions are friendlier on the fee front."
Interest rates: Credit unions offer higher yielding accounts but it noted that may not be enough to prompt bank customers to switch banks.
Customer service: "Once again, credit unions beat big banks. But as their customer base grows, it will be crucial for the industry to ramp up resources to meet demand."
"If you are able to take advantage of a credit union and don't mind the lack of ATMs and physical branches, they are by far the best option for banking today," said Business Insider. "You'll pay fewer fees and get more personalized services out of the deal as well."
In Seattle, CBS's "New Day' producers, which partnered with Washington State Employees CU for the past year to provide consumers financial information, said the most common question it receives about the show is "What is the difference between credit unions and just traditional banks?"
WSECU's Suzanne Klenk discussed two key differences--cooperative ownership and philosophy--and outlined seven cooperative principles of credit unions: voluntary and open membership; philosophy, democratic member control, members' economic participation, credit unions' autonomy and independence, an emphasis on financial education, cooperation among cooperatives, and concern for community. Use the links to access both the article and the segment.
Spreading awareness about credit unions' value is one of the three prongs underlying the Credit Union National Association's and credit unions' Unite for Good campaign, which aims to rally credit unions toward the strategic vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partners. For more information, visit the Unite for Good and aSmarterChoice.org sites in the links.