It’s true, there are many instances where membership to a credit union is dependent on where you work, if you serve in the military, or the college or university you are an alumni of. However, in many cases becoming a member and opening a credit union account comes down to the community in which you live, work, worship, or attend school. It’s that simple.
To “make it official” you’ll need to first open a credit union membership share account, which is a basic savings account. Here you’ll deposit your membership share, typically between $5-$25. Because credit unions have members, not customers, this deposit represents your share of ownership in the credit union. If you ever decide to move on from the credit union, your deposit comes back to you.
From there you can open additional accounts that best serve your financial needs, everything from checking, savings and money market accounts, to applying for credit cards or loans.
A 2012 report showed that one in five checking account holders wanted to switch their accounts away from their financial institutions. But less than half ever took action. Here are a few suggestions to make it easier when switching to a credit union account:
- Open your new account first and switch any direct deposits to this account.
- Check if your old account has a minimum balance and stay above it.
- Start using your new account or cash, and avoid using your old account. Do not write checks or use debit cards tied to your old account as much as possible to minimize dollars coming and going from it.
- Move any automatic payments to be withdrawn from your new account.
- Keep the old account open for a while to make sure deposits and automatic payments have ceased.
Do you need further convincing that joining a credit union could be the best financial option for you? Consider these points:
- Credit unions can offer lower interest rates on loan accounts, while at the same time offering higher interest rates on interest-earning accounts
- The number one complaint about banks? Being charged fees. Credit unions on the other hand generally charge lower fees or no fees at all for certain products.
- Credit union credit cards often offer lower interest rates. This allows members to do a balance transfer from a higher rate bank or store credit card.
Let Diamond Credit Union employee, Renee, walk you through the steps of becoming a member of a credit union and opening a credit union account: