Which of these statements do you agree with when it comes to your banking needs?
- I like to get money back.
- I like to be in charge of my money.
- I don’t like paying fees for things I really shouldn’t pay fees for.
- I like a variety of products and services when it comes to my banking.
- I want my bank to really care about my financial success.
If you agreed with any of the statements or even better, all of them, I’ve got good news for you. All of the above are possible to find in one spot. Ever heard of a credit union?
When I first heard the term, I didn’t think it was something I would be interested in. I thought it was a bank for my grandma, or maybe a spot where someone could get a payday loan. But when I started working in the credit union industry a month ago, all the myths I’d heard about them were busted. So, I wanted to share my top ten myths – and the facts – about credit unions in Alberta.
1. Credit unions charge extra fees.
Fact: Nope. Credit unions don’t charge extra fees. We give members money back through profit-sharing. When’s the last time your bank paid you?
Most credit unions across Alberta don’t charge monthly banking fees for youth, students, or seniors or those who maintain a minimum balance. And as a credit union member you have access to thousands of surcharge-free ATMs across the country with ding free.
2. Credit unions are small potatoes.
Fact: Forget this one – credit unions are not small organizations with only a few branches located in rural communities. There are 19 different credit unions in Alberta with more than 611,000 members across the province.
When you bank with a credit union, your money is invested locally, to benefit the small businesses in your community. Banking with a credit union is banking local.
3. Credit unions are payday lenders.
Fact: Don’t worry, credit unions are nothing like payday lenders. We are just like the big banks, but we care about our members’ financial success (not just our shareholders).
Whether you need a chequing account, a loan, a mortgage or a credit card, your local credit union can help – and you’ll never feel pressured to get a product that doesn’t suit your needs.
4. Credit unions are collections agencies.
Fact: We may have the word “credit” in our name, but we have nothing to do with collecting on unpaid debts. We are just like the banks, but we give advice with your best interests – and not the bottom line – in mind.
Need help budgeting for a big life change like starting a business, buying a house or retiring? Visit your local credit union for advice today!
5. Credit unions are only open to special groups like farmers or union members.
Fact: Again, not true! Most credit unions are open to anyone! You don’t have to be in a special group (like a teacher or a farmer or a construction worker).
And when you bank with a credit union, you are a member, not just a number. You can help the organization make decisions and you are part of their success thanks to profit-sharing.
6. Credit unions charge higher interest rates.
Fact: Not even close: credit unions charge the same – or lower – interest rates as the big banks. We not only offer great products and services, but the money you invest in a credit union goes back into the Alberta economy (not off to Bay Street).
Whether you need a chequing account, travel reward credit card, home-equity line of credit, small business loan or new investment portfolio, your local credit union has the product for you.
7. Credit unions are your grandma’s bank.
Fact: Not at all! credit unions are not your grandma’s bank, with old-fashioned ways of doing things and outdated technology. We have a proud history of innovation in Canada – including offering the first mobile cheque deposit app in 2013 – which we continue to build on.
Banking with a credit union means you’ll have access to the latest technology, but it also means being treated like a person.
8. Credit unions are risky.
Fact: Nice try! Credit unions are not risky or unstable – every deposit and accrued interest is 100% guaranteed, with no limit.
That’s the strongest guarantee in Canada (and it’s not available at the banks).
9. Credit unions have bad customer service.
Fact: You’re our priority! Credit unions have won the Ipsos Best Banking Award for customer service 13 years in a row!
And unlike the banks, we don’t base service level on net worth – everyone gets treated like a person, every time.
10. Credit unions won’t make you money.
Fact: Quite the opposite – profits from Alberta credit unions are shared with members through patronage and share dividends.
In 2017, more than $79 million went back to people like you!
I hope that busting these myths has changed the way you think about your money and where you put it. Interested in learning more? Visit your local credit union and become a member today!