by Tom Wambaugh
Banking continues to evolve, from how we access our accounts to how we make and process payments. Expectations have also evolved for both personal and business banking. We want easy access, including online and mobile, great service and a banking partner we can trust. For many people, they have found just that and more by joining a credit union.
First, it’s important to understand that virtually everyone is eligible for credit union membership.
Sites such as mycreditunion.gov and ncua.gov provide credit union locator tools to help you start the process. From there, you can narrow your selection to find a credit union that best fits your needs. That could include branch locations, types of services offered and product features. You might also want to ask family and friends that belong to credit unions for their recommendations.
Once you select a credit union, setting up your membership and accounts should be easy, whether done in branch or online. If you’re new to credit unions, getting established in a branch gives you the opportunity to meet the staff and ask questions. Either way, following are at least five things you should know and be sure to take advantage of when becoming a credit union member.
- When you’re a member, you’re also an owner of your credit union. As a member, you’ll own a share of your credit union. That share gives you an opportunity to participate in the annual election of the volunteer Board of Directors so that you have a say in your credit union’s future.
- Earnings are returned to member/owners. Credit Unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, which means earnings are returned to members in many ways, such as fewer or lower fees, better interest rates, and exclusive services and programs. As an example, Greater Nevada Credit Union offers a variety of rewarding checking options for both consumers and businesses. As the title sponsor of Greater Nevada Field, home of Reno Aces baseball and Reno 1868 FC soccer, we also provide members with game and special event ticket discounts.
- There’s easy access to ATMs and branches. Many credit unions are part of a shared network, in which members can receive service at other participating credit unions. For instance, the CO-OP Network provides Greater Nevada Credit Union members access to more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs and 5,000 shared credit union branches nationwide.
- The service is personal. Being member-focused results in services and products designed to help the people who own the credit union. Members who own a small business often find that their credit union will provide a commercial loan that they couldn’t obtain elsewhere. Or a member struggling to pay bills will often find solutions through their credit union for credit counseling and debt consolidation. Credit union employees get to know their members and take a proactive approach to serving them. At Greater Nevada Credit Union it’s not unusual for members to receive calls or other messages requesting feedback or offering ways to improve their banking experiences.
- Credit Unions are active in their communities. While many financial institutions are legally bound to help their communities, per the Community Reinvestment Act, credit unions give back through their philosophy of “people helping people.” This includes providing financial education at local schools and community organizations, supporting non-profits that provide local social services, and even scholarships to help students of all ages reach their goals. Greater Nevada supplements all of that with an active community service program, in which every Greater Nevada employee is encouraged to volunteer a few hours a month during paid work time.
To learn more about joining a credit union, visit mycreditunion.gov or ncua.gov. Or visit gncu.org or any Greater Nevada Credit Union branch. You can also call (775) 882-2060.
Tom Wambaugh is Vice President of Member Service at Greater Nevada Credit Union, the USDA National Lender of the Year, an SBA Lender of the Year, and the title sponsor of Greater Nevada Field in Reno. For more information visit gncu.org.