Are you fed up with banking in general?

The move your money movement launched in late 2009 is bearing fruit. Huffington Post the catalyst behind this movement urged bank customers angered by the too big to fail attitude to move their money to community banks or credit unions.

55 percent of community banks have seen increase in deposits according to Community Bankers of America. For most of the credit unions unfortunately the bounce hasn’t been this dramatic. The credit union’s have not taken advantage of this great opportunity to promote themselves effectively in the marketplace and get the message out.

Pros & Cons

Lower Rates – According to a study in 2009 by the Pew Charitable Trust

  • Credit cards at the 12 largest credit unions were 9.9% to 13.75% vs. the 12 largest banks 12.24% to 17.99%.  Significant savings on your balances.
  • Federal Credit Unions are capped at 18% by law. Not so for the large banks which in some cases charge more than 30%.
  • Rates on auto loans tend to be higher at large banks vs. smaller community banks and credit unions.
  • Mortgage rates since they are typically securitized are virtually the same at all institutions.

Lower Fees

  • According to independent research firm Filene, banks charge on average $183.14 a year vs. $71.47 a year for credit unions.
  • According to my research in Memphis, credit unions tend to charge around 30% less in fees than the banks.

More personalized service

  • The bigger banks offer more speed and convenience.
  • The smaller community banks and credit unions pride themselves on knowing their customer and providing them with excellent customer service.

Branches & ATM’s

  • The big banks have branch locations all over the country and a large ATM network
  • The smaller community banks and credit unions are more local, and may only have one branch or limited ATM’s. Make sure the branch or ATM is close to where you work or live.
  • Some credit unions participate in shared branching which has branches across the country, however these are other credit unions.
  • Check to see if your credit union participates in the Co-Op network, which has more than 25,000 locations nationwide surcharge-free.
  • According to a survey by Bankrate in 2009, the average fee for withdrawing your money was $2.22.

Customer service hours

  • National banks typically have expanded hours, including weekends. Also, a 24/7 customer call center.
  • Smaller community banks and credit unions may not be able to provide these expanded hours. Although some now are open on Saturdays.

Additional Services

  • Big banks tend to have all the latest technology. Online banking, mobile banking, they are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. They have staffs answering questions and comments that come in from their customers.
  • Smaller banks and credit unions do offer online banking, and in some cases mobile banking. Study your options, do they have the option to pay bills online? Are their fees involved? If so, how much? What about mobile banking? Fees involved as well?

It’s imperative that you do the research and ask the questions when seeking out a new financial institution. After all…it is your money!



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