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Monday, Oct. 7, 2019

How Are Credit Unions Different?

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Directly owned by its members, there are some advantages they can offer as a non-profit

When it comes to choosing a storehouse for your money, you have plenty of options.

You could go with a large corporate bank, maybe a smaller, locally-owned bank, or perhaps an online bank. But if you are looking for an alternative to traditional financial institutions, a credit union might be your preference.

With any financial decision, information is the key to making wise moves. We asked representatives from three local credit unions to explain how they operate and why they are viable options.

318 Question: How does a credit union differ from a traditional bank?

Amber Free, head of marketing at ANECA Federal Credit Union: Credit unions are unique in that they are not-forprofit financial institutions owned by their members (customers), as opposed to banks that are privately or publicly held for-profit institutions. Credit unions do not answer to shareholders but to their members.

Patricia Cunningham, vice president of marketing at Red River Credit Union: A credit union is a not-for-profit cooperative and offers a full range of financial products and services for its members. A credit union’s members are also its owners, while a bank has stockholders who benefit from the profits the bank earns. Since the credit union is a nonprofit cooperative, members take advantage of the earnings by having lower loan rates and higher deposit rates. Banks are governed by paid shareholders, while a credit union is democratically governed based on a onemember, one-vote philosophy.

Jill Folks, chief marketing officer at Carter Credit Union: Credit unions do everything banks do, we just do it better. The credit union industry’s philosophy is “people helping people.” This concept resonates well with all generations. This is especially true for those who value socially responsible organizations that put people before profit.

318: What are the benefits of credit union membership?

Free: It has been said that credit unions are the best-kept secret in the financial industry. Because credit unions are owned by their members, you can bet they will offer products and services that serve the interest of the members, excellent rates and personal service. Credit unions are associated with specified groups (often employers) or a geographical area, which creates a very symbiotic relationship between the two. That’s why you see credit unions being so closely involved with the community.

Folks: Credit Unions are often a misunderstood entity with many believing that they only serve your auto loan and savings account needs, or that you have to work or live in a specific area. This is often not true of many credit unions, and it’s certainly not true of Carter. Because of the credit union’s notfor-profit status, credit unions offer financial products on the most favorable terms it can afford to offer. The average credit union has better rates and fees than the average bank, and that is a fact.

Cunningham: Benefits for membership in a credit union are lower loan rates, higher deposit rates, and, many times, lower fees. At RRCU, we offer a full suite of financial services from savings and checking accounts to auto loans, mortgage loans and credit cards, all of which are combined with exceptional service to our members.

318: What are your current offers and lending programs?

Folks: Carter offers a wide array of deposit and loan products on both the consumer and business side. Our Member Business Services Department serves both big and small commercial loans and deposits and provides a professional suite of additional services for your business. If you are looking to purchase an auto, Carter Credit Union offers you access to a knowledgeable staff that will assist you in making sure you receive the best deal possible at the dealership for both your trade and your new purchase.

Free: ANECA offers all the products and services you have come to expect from a big bank. To name a few, we have True2You, a free, customizable checking account; a variety of savings accounts including Save & Win, which rewards depositors with cash prizes; a Holiday Savers Club account; always-competitive certificates; award-winning personal loans; fantastic auto loans; and a full mortgage department that handles all types of home loans as well as land and construction loans.

Cunningham: We have a wide variety of products to offer all of our members. Members who are eligible can take advantage of our Skip-a-Payment program twice a year and our popular Holiday Loans starting in October. We offer a wide variety of personal and commercial lending options, as well as mortgage lending.

318: How can someone join your credit union?

Free: If you live, work or worship in Caddo, Bossier or DeSoto parishes and have a $10 bill, you can join ANECA Federal Credit Union. You can even join without coming into a branch thanks to our online account opening process.

Cunningham: In keeping with the vision and spirit of the small group who started Red River Credit Union in 1943, each member is still an owner in the credit union. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in our rural charter service area and seg-based in areas of northern Louisiana and northeastern Mississippi.

Folks: Apply online or visit one of our branch locations to start doing business with Carter.

For more information about credit unions, visit ncua.gov or cuna.org.

In upcoming editions of 318 Forum, we will focus on various financial topics, including:

• Taxing Thoughts: Things you can do now to help you save on your 2019 taxes.

• Estate Planning, long-term care plans (costs/ requirements/benefits).

• Banking and mortgage services, home improvement loans: What’s new and what are current trends in home lending? Refinancing. Business lending.

• 2019 Reflections / 2020 Forecasts in finance, lending, last-minute moves that can still save you money money in 2019


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