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5 Lesser-Known Credit Union Benefits That Boost Your Financial Health

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Credit union benefits are not always top of mind for consumers. The credit union model is gaining ground for those who are financially and politically aware, but credit unions are still the underdog of the financial world. For consumers deciding between a credit union and a bank, choosing the financial institution with a cooperative and community-focused model can have several benefits, including improving your economic well-being.

We believe that picking a financial institution is an important decision that can affect your future as well as that of your community. Here are some lesser-known credit union benefits that just might help you make the switch if you’re still on the fence.

Credit Union Benefit #1: Personalized Financial Guidance

The banking industry is increasingly focusing on experiences and personalization. From onboarding to resolving issues or adopting mobile financial tools, the goal is to offer engaging journeys. With 76 percent of member experiences happening online, credit unions have successfully established themselves as digital banking leaders.

We also have a unique advantage when it comes to in-person interactions. Thanks to our small scale and community focus, we have a strong local presence, and our employees usually have strong ties to the community.

As a member, you'll have a single point of contact with our advisors. Your advisor will be happy to review your finances and help with budgeting and planning. Our mission is to guide our members to better financial lives, and we achieve this goal by helping our members develop personalized financial plans.

Whether you need to save, invest, or finance large purchases, our personalized banking approach is one of our key credit union benefits.

Credit Union Benefit #2: Competitive Loan Rates and Terms

Credit unions operate on a not-for-profit model. When we earn a profit, we distribute the excess to you and other members through lower fees or more-competitive rates.

The difference can be significant. For instance, credit unions offered five-year certificates of deposit with an average of 2.89 percent during Q3 2023, while banks offered a rate of 1.99 percent for the same product.

Another credit union benefit is that members tend to save on borrowing, with credit card interest rates being two percentage points lower and used auto loan rates being close to one percentage point cheaper.

Applying for a loan at a credit union can also be a very different experience. Credit unions can be more flexible and will take the time to review each application individually. If an applicant fails to meet the requirements, financial advisors often work with them to help them qualify. This is just another credit union benefit that the big banks are hard-pressed to match.

We offer competitive rates on a wide range of lending products, including:
  • Personal loans: You can borrow as much or as little as you need for your projects. Our secured loans are a great way to save even more.
  • Recreational loans: We finance RV, boat, motorcycle, and jet ski purchases.
  • Mortgages: We can help you plan for your most significant and expensive purchase with fixed- or variable-rate mortgages.
  • New and used auto loans: We offer competitive and flexible options for financing or refinancing your vehicle purchases.
  • Business loans: Besides financing your small business, we can become a long-term partner for success with business accounts, credit cards, and more.
Credit Union Benefit #3: Community-Centric Approach

Credit unions have a strong local presence. While major banks are for-profit and always looking for ways to expand, we focus on developing our local presence. At PFCU, you're a family member, not an account number.

When you deposit money with us, the funds will help finance loans for other community members. Credit unions offer the benefit of supporting small businesses that help the community thrive. Small businesses comprise over 46 percent of the private workforce in the U.S. 

We also foster connections through programs and events. For instance, credit unions often sponsor local festivals or organize events designed to improve financial literacy among children, or help non-profits.

Credit Union Benefit #4: Lower Fees and Fewer Account Charges

Banks use most of the fees they charge to generate a profit and pass it on to shareholders. Monthly fees can range from $4 to $25 for an account. Consumers can expect additional fees of $2.50 per transaction when using an out-of-network ATM, while overdraft fees cost an average of $26.

Products like credit cards cost even more, with cardholders paying an average of $76 in fees and interest per quarter.

Banks are pressured to reduce these fees, but shareholders still expect a return. Many banks have a history of charging fees by mistake or using junk fees to boost profits. Charging junk fees is an unethical practice that consists of billing consumers for fees that were not clearly disclosed.

A major benefit of using a credit union is that we are not-for-profit and aim to help our local communities. We're not under any pressure to increase fees or engage in unethical practices like charging junk fees.

As a result, we're able to offer great rates, low to no fees, and exclusive discounts.

Our members have access to free or affordable checking and savings accounts, overdraft protection, and competitive credit card rates. Plus, our local ATM networks can help avoid transaction fees.

Credit Union Benefit #5: Member Ownership and Decision-Making

As discussed above, there is a conflict of interest in the way major banks operate. What benefits the shareholders is rarely in the best interest of the consumers.

As a credit union, we solve this problem by adopting a member-owner model. We operate according to strict guidelines that apply to all financial institutions, such as carrying NCUA insurance to protect deposits, but members are in charge of making important decisions. 

As a member, you'll get to vote on important issues, such as how we distribute profits. This model ensures that every decision is made in your best interest. This is a credit union benefit that many of our members consider integral to their decision to bank with us.

Make the Power Move to Improve Your Financial Well-Being

Credit union benefits include having access to personalized guidance and affordable financial products. Plus, our community-focused, member-owner model ensures that everything we do aligns with the economic well-being of our nearly 35,000 members.

Are you ready to save on banking and build a better future with personalized advice? Find out more about joining a credit union and the many benefits Power Financial Credit Union offers to the South Florida community.