Updated: 1/26/2011 3:40 PM ET|
Converts sing praises of credit unions
$1,200 legally yanked from savings accounts drove one man from his bank. Lower interest rates on credit cards and fewer fees attracted others to credit unions.
The notices started coming. First one credit card was raising its rate, then another. Looking for a way around a 19.99% interest rate, I contacted a large local credit union and was immediately offered a credit card at 6.99% interest.
Even more exciting, a credit union representative uttered those four little words I'd been longing to hear: no balance transfer fee.
That's all it took for me to switch. Others point to better customer service, higher interest rates on checking and savings accounts or the "unfair or deceptive" practices used by bank credit cards as reasons they've kicked big banks to the curb.
Tired of chugging along like a cog in a corporate wheel? Feeling a little credit-union curious? Read on for stories of people who've suffered the last straws and switched.
Mike Phinney, a technical director from Baltimore, says he switched his checking, savings and credit card over to a credit union after his bank changed ownership -- and the language of his banking contract -- allowing it to take his money.
"I had these two household accounts with about $600 each, money I was holding on to for renovations," he says. "But then my bank changed the language of the contract, saying that if an account doesn't remain active, within 30 days you start to accrue penalties."
Phinney says he wasn't aware of the change until he went to purchase something using one of the household accounts and found it was empty. Ditto for its twin. When he contacted the bank, the news got worse: He was told he owed the bank money, thanks to penalties he'd accrued from having two inactive accounts.
He argued with two managers, who finally agreed to remove the balance due. But they kept the $1,200. "That's when I pulled all my money out of the bank and switched over to a credit union," Phinney says.
There were other reasons, too. Phinney's bank had refused to budge from the 17% interest it charged for his credit card (the credit union offered him 6%), and the customer service at his bank, he says, was getting worse.
"They couldn't make the simplest decisions without calling the head office," he says. "It was becoming very impersonal. At the credit union, though, it feels like the good, old-fashioned customer service that people long for. They're friendly; they know you by name. It's like the old family bank."
Credit unions are member-owned, while banks are run for the benefit of shareholders.
Prompted by penalty fees
Penalty fees also drove Liz Washer, a communications director from Amherst, Mass., to switch her checking and savings accounts to a credit union after being with the same bank for more than eight years.
"I watched my checking account very closely, but in eight years, you're going to make a mistake here and there," Washer says. "I finally goofed and paid a bill before my paycheck cleared. The account was overdrawn for about a day, but a bunch of little ATM charges and bills went through on that day."
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What we need in this country is a peaceful revolution, a revolution whereby more people switch to credit unions. That way their brokers would have to get real jobs instead of being parasites on society. That way perhaps laid-off Chicago factory workers wouldn't have had to take a stand against Bank of America, which tried to deny them their final paychecks and severance. Maybe private lenders wouldn't have been able to collude with university and college financial aid officers, to profiteer from the student loan system, and with a smiling face, and a cash register for a heart, saddle college graduates with crushing debt for decades. Debt--it's the modern form of indentured servitude, also known as slavery. And lastly, perhaps banks wouldn't be able to play "gotcha" with their credit card and debit card customers, not to mention charging you for simply accessing your own money at an ATM. The only difference between the big banks and armed bank robbers is that latter are at least open and honest about what they're doing.
Of course credit unions are better, they are ideally member owned sure they are there to make money but the members have some stake in the company and therefore have lower rates for the members that co own the thrift institution. you can take any economic class at any level and learn quickly that a credit union is the way to go banks are spoiled by corporate and even government greed.
halo head ted XBL
The biggest difference I found with a Credit Union over a bank is the absence of Black Tax. Whatever the rate for the loan offered is the only rate offered. There is no higher rate based on skin color and no special lower rate based on last name or skin color. There are no special fees hidden. The payments come straight from your paycheck, so you learn to budget accordingly and the 'Pledge' , (the money kept as collateral against the loan), amount makes sure the CU doesn't lose the entire loan if you get laid off.
I just left Wells Fargo and transferred every penny to my CU. I have NEVER been happier and know that my skin color will not prevent me from getting a fair mortgage rate, an affordable loan rate, treatment and respect, and prompt service on weekends if I need it. And I have a credit card with a really reasonable interest rate, (10%), that isn't based on my zip code or skin color. If you think those things don't matter, you're probably out of touch with how racist our banking system truly is.
The (sort of) bad news is that caution also is needed with CUs.
I had been a member of a CU in AZ for over 20 years. They dropped the word "Federal" from their name,and came under State regulation. The 'fine print' changed,and I may as well have been dealing w/ BOA .
Fortunately,my Late & GREAT Mother had made one sound financial decision in Her many years!
My Wife and I checked out Her CU,and found them to be just exactly what a CU should be.
We don't even mind that their Visa C.C.rate is all the way up to ( NOT a Promo or gimmick)--- maybe you should sit down--- 5.75 %. Yes, I'm serious. KFCU in Albuquerque .
Just thought someone might want to know. MTP
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