How to Size Up Credit Unions
If you are planning to join a credit union, you should do the necessary footwork to find the best one in your area. You may know how credit unions compare to banks, but not be aware of how to compare one credit union to another. Here are some things you can do to help yourself choose the right financial institution for you:
Make a List of the Credit Unions You Are Eligible to Join
You need to find several credit unions you qualify for if you want to make a good comparison. You typically have to work for a particular company or be part of some other specific organization if you want to join a credit union. Therefore, you can simply ask around at your job, church or any clubs you belong to in order to find out which credit unions service the people there. You can also look online to find hotlines that will tell you which credit unions you are eligible for depending on the groups you belong to. You should be able to find at least a few to compare.
You may get some feedback on credit unions when you ask around to find out which ones you can join. But you can get even more information when you go online and look up reviews for the ones you are considering. Find out which credit unions have the best ratings, and learn why. This should let you know which are worth your time.
Find Out What Each Credit Union Offers
All credit unions are not identical in terms of what they offer; for example, while some credit unions offer the same exact services as major banks, many do not. This is why, as part of your comparison, you should call a credit union or check its website first to find out what is available to members. If you think you will want to get a loan for a home, car or some other personal need in the near future, make sure your credit union offers these loans. The same goes for when you want to refinance or open a credit card.
Make Sure a Credit Union Is Convenient
Once you know the major offerings available, look at the details. For example, find out if a credit union you are considering has a branch near where you live or work, or at least has ATMs available. You want to make sure you are going to be able to conveniently access your money when you need to. You should also find out if the credit union offers Internet banking so you can keep track of your account balance and pay bills online. In addition, find out about any fees you may face while banking with the institution, and learn what its typical interest rates are compared to other credit unions.
You can get most of these answers by calling or visiting the websites of the credit unions you are interested in. You can also personally visit their offices if you have time to sit down with a credit union employee. In fact, if you are looking for that hard-to-find personal touch when banking, it may be best to go in and make sure the staff is welcoming and helpful. Then you can make an informed decision on the best credit union for you.