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11 Benefits of Joining a Credit Union

February 27, 2024
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Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives. Offering the same products and services as most standard banks, a credit union can be more flexible than its for-profit counterparts. For instance, many credit union members notice the advantages of a credit union when they apply for a loan or check their savings account balance.

With their non-profit status freeing them from federal taxes and the demands of investors, credit unions are able to offer their members more competitive interest rates on both loans and savings accounts.

1. Personalized Financial Services

One of the biggest benefits of joining a credit union? Having a voice. Credit unions are committed to taking care of their members. A credit union like DCU will put your needs first and help nurture your financial health.

Credit unions know banking is personal and everyone’s situation is unique. Are you a first-time home buyer? Take a look at our mortgage offerings and you’ll notice a level of flexibility and education that doesn’t exist at a traditional bank. Whether your concerns are centered around saving for retirement or borrowing for college, credit unions will steer you in the direction that meets your needs.

2. Low Fees and Great Rates

Credit unions can offer great interest rates and low fees. Rather than paying profit margins to investors, credit unions put profits back into the business by offering low interest rates on loans and high interest rates on savings accounts, effectively giving any extra money back to credit union members.

These credit union benefits may be noticeable when applying for credit cards, mortgages, student loans and more. Holders of a DCU credit card will also enjoy the lack of annual, balance transfer and cash advance fees1

1APR = Annual Percentage Rates are determined by your creditworthiness at time of opening. Rates are variable and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate and can change monthly. Maximum rate is 18%. Please refer to DCU's VISA Credit Card Agreement for Consumers for full applicable terms and conditions.

In fact, there is a distinct lack of fees throughout most credit unions services. Most credit union checking accounts are offered without minimum maintenance charges or minimum balances. You get to do what’s right for you without sweating over hidden fees.

3. Community Focus and Local Impact

A credit union’s commitment to community typically goes beyond the scope of its members. DCU sponsors a range of events for community empowerment every year. Here are a few examples of ways we’ve recently stepped up:

  • Veterans Inc Stand Down: DCU sponsored an event that provided Armed Forces veterans with area resources, jobs and clothing, as well as prizes, lunch and free haircuts.
  • Award Sponsors: DCU has recognized outstanding people in the community with Hometown Hero and High School Sports All-Star awards.
  • Dollar $cholar: Facilitating conferences with 175 participants, this event taught middle schoolers about financial literacy and wellness. This event has benefitted over 400 students since 2022.

DCU is committed to supporting our community both financially and by action. We believe that we grow best when our community is thriving.

4. Member Ownership and Democracy

When we mentioned that your voice counts in a credit union earlier, we meant it. Based on people helping people principles, credit unions are democratically controlled organizations.

Our board of directors is elected by their fellow credit union members. Any member of DCU is allowed a vote, no matter how much money they have in their accounts. Only members of the credit union can be elected to the board, ensuring only those that have the credit union’s best interests in mind are our key stakeholders.

5. Emphasis on Financial Education

If you take a look at DCU’s extensive education page, it’s easy to see how dedicated credit unions can be to educating their members. With lessons about fraud prevention, saving and budgeting, people from all walks of life can get something from reading credit union resources.

Credit union benefits that promote financial literacy go way beyond simple content, however. For instance, those who want to get their budget into shape and seek financial counseling will benefit from complimentary access to programs like Balance, which offers access to financial counselors and a range of educational resources such as worksheets and podcasts.

6. Accessibility and Convenience

While credit unions might not have the visibility of the big banks, they’re more accessible than you might think. When you walk into a branch, it’s easy to tell that you’re walking into a community rather than a large institution.

DCU branches can be found throughout Massachusetts while ATM networks extend much farther. Because of their small nature, credit unions share an ATM network. In fact, when you have a DCU debit card, you can use any ATM with an Allpoint, SUM or CO-OP logo with no surcharge fee.

Credit unions might not have as many resources as big banks but they’re keeping up when it comes to digital banking. DCU allows members to do everyday banking such as auto-pay set-up, balance transfers and loan applications from the convenience of their phones.

7. Focus on Financial Well-being

Members come first at credit unions. The education, tools and guidance that credit unions offer makes it easy to see that they care about their member’s financial wellness long into the future. Here are some financial health tools DCU provides at no cost to its members:

8. Socially Responsible Investing

Credit unions are all about helping the community around them grow and thrive. After all, if their communities do better, the credit union does better. DCU is no different. DCU has multiple funds specifically set up for community benefit. Here are a few examples:

  • The Lawrence Venture Fund: Making low-cost funding available to small business owners.
  • The Lowell Plan: A non-profit development plan focusing on nurturing local economic, educational and cultural development
  • The North Central Massachusetts Development Fund: A fund formed to recruit and retain business and job development in 23 cities in North Central Massachusetts.
  • Fintech: DCU participates in helping start-ups gain traction from the very beginning.

H2: 9. Personalized Customer Service

Phone trees and long waits have become standard when it comes to calling the bank. That’s less likely to happen when calling a credit union. You’re part of the organization and you’re treated like it.

This is the case when you call DCU. You can reach our staff by email, phone or live chat through the Digital Banking app during business hours. Why does DCU limit chat to business hours? So you’re always chatting with a DCU team member.

In addition to the personal help available through phone, chat and email, DCU provides 24-hour access to accounts through phone banking as well as digital access through the website or downloadable app.

10. Protection of Member Interests

Credit unions understand that life happens. They care about what happens to their members. That’s why many credit unions have relief programs to make sure members who are struggling through hard times aren’t left behind.

At DCU, members can contact us as soon as they’re unable to make a payment to get the conversation started. DCU financial relief programs cover:

  • Mortgages and home equity: No one should lose their home because of a lost job, extended illness or a death in the family. DCU helps families that are struggling with home payments on a case-by-case basis
  • Car loans
  • Credit card loans
  • Commercial and business loans

11. Seamless Switching Process

Changing banks can be overwhelming. What if you don’t close out your accounts properly? How can you switch accounts swiftly and safely? One of the benefits of a credit union is that they care about every member. That’s why most credit unions will make it easy for a new member to transfer their accounts.

DCU has a service called ClickSwitch to make it simple and safe to move your money from your old account to your new one. It also helps transition your direct deposits and automated payments to make transitioning relatively hassle-free

The New Member Guide also makes transitioning to DCU easier. This guide explains everything you need to know about your accounts, your savings and e-statements. It also breaks down what you’ll receive in the mail and actionable steps you’ll need to take in response to any correspondence.

What are the Benefits of Joining a Credit Union?

Let’s recap. Credit unions are committed to their members and their community’s financial health through their commitment, both financially, and through acts of volunteerism. Credit unions like DCU offer many services to help you thrive financially, even in times of struggle.

Are you interested in making the credit union switch? Learn more about DCU and the way that credit unions work when you visit our homepage. Your financial wellness matters. Gain a voice and a sense of community when you join your local credit union.

Please note, membership is required to open a DCU Visa® Platinum Credit Card, Savings Account, Checking Account, Mortgage Loan, Auto Loan, or Business Loan. Visit our membership eligibility page for more information.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as legal, financial, investment or tax advice or indicate that a specific DCU product or service is right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a financial professional.