The "Why" Behind Credit Unions

You Should Know About Your Financial Institution!

Credit unions are financial institutions - a place where you can save money, borrow money, do transactions with credit cards, debit cards, and now, mobile transactions. Much like banks, credit unions offer financial services. However, you may have heard that credit unions are different than banks. True, they are different from banks...but how? And more importantly, why? 

Where You Bank Does Make A Difference

With some research, you will likely discover that credit unions are not-for-profit. While banks are owned by share-holders in the company, credit unions are owned by members. If you belong to a credit union, you are a member, you are an owner. You may also find that being not-for-profit, credit unions can deliver better rates on loans, savings accounts, and less fees. Remember, they are not looking to make a profit, so their returns translate to better rates for you, the member.

Credit unions are typically smaller than banks, you get to know the employees, and build a trusting relationship with your credit union. I don't know about you, but I feel that a trusting relationship with your financial institution should rank high on the scale of importance. Another advantage of being a member of a credit union, is having access to almost ALL branches across Maine, even the country. Shared branching allows you to do your banking conveniently, no matter where you are in the state.

Besides convenience, shared branching, and better rates, you may not know why credit unions care about their members above and beyond their accounts. The fact is that credit unions are not looking to make a profit from you as a member. They are looking to build relationships. Credit unions have always been about providing resources for their local communities. As financial cooperatives, they have always stood for helping people who may not have a financial advantage.

 In fact, one of the first loans ever issued by a credit union was to a farmer to finance a cow! The reason why? Because a bank typically wouldn't loan money for such a crazy thing! Credit unions live by the philosophy, "people helping people," and they want you to live your dreams, no matter your financial situation. Although you may not be looking to buy a cow, they will do what it takes to help you get approved for your first credit card, car loan, or your first mortgage. 

Outside of the credit union, employees go above and beyond to contribute to their communities and to make a difference. The Maine Credit Union Campaign to End Hunger has raised over 5.9 million dollars, with all proceeds staying in the state of Maine to benefit local food pantries and food banks. This money was raised by credit unions in their communities.

Being a member of a credit union is about becoming more than just a "customer." Being a member is having a say in your financial institution, being a part of a financial cooperative, and still having access to convenience and great financial services. I love being a member of a credit union, and I would never change to another financial institution!

Take care,

Mallory