So you’re thinking of switching to a credit union…

The recent bank fees announced by some major banks have caused many to consider transferring their money and business to smaller financial institutions, like credit unions. Yet many find themselves growing hesitant about making the change because let’s face it, credit unions are not banks. We prefer the distinction and embrace it. Nonetheless the general population is accustomed to banks – we get this. However you also have a choice and options. Keep in mind, change is sometimes a good thing.

Below is a simple FAQ about the ILWU Credit Union that incorporates the way other credit unions think and operate.

What is the difference between our credit union and banks?

CEOs and stockholders manage banks. In credit unions, members have a voice – they are our community. For example, in the ILWU Credit Union each member is given one vote and participates in electing the company’s Board of Directors.

Why is it important for a person to be a ‘member’ and not just a regular bank customer?

A successful credit union means that we have greater flexibility to work with each individual to find the best financial solution for you. Remember, we see you as a person not a number. This translates to better interest rates and special deals on items such as new cars.

Can anyone join a credit union or the ILWU Credit Union?

Our credit union has a closed membership meaning only longshoremen and immediate family members of longshoremen can join and become members. Each credit union has their own membership requirements. Some base membership on things like occupation, employer or residency.

Do I have to pay a membership fee or other related fee(s)?

We do not have debit card/usage fees. We only charge a $1 membership fee. Also, when opening a savings account you are required to deposit $5. The money is held as an initial deposit only, so if you ever decide to close the savings account the $5 is returned to you.

Isn’t it a hassle or time-consuming to transfer my funds from a major bank to a credit union?

Not at all. We offer the same products/services that a bank has – from checking/saving accounts to mortgages or credit cards, and we offer better interest rates too! The change is easy and because our membership is exclusive, you have better attention and service. We can set-up a bill pay system for you and transfer your Direct Deposit.

Won’t I have trouble accessing ATMs and my funds?

As a member, you have many options including access to 28,000 CO-OP zero-fee ATMs. Check out our online ATM locator. You can also do your banking in person at our Wilmington location (we have several ATMs here too). Longshoremen also have access to the ATM (on Broad Avenue) across from the Local 13 Dispatch Hall and another located on Maersk Terminal (2500 Navy Way). If you’re mobile, you can access the ATM Locator through our Mobile Banking option or text 692667 to find the nearest CO-OP ATM.

What about online banking?

Once you open an account with us you will have access to online AND mobile banking so you can transfer funds, check your balance or set-up a bill pay and receive alerts – all from your computer or phone. Unlike most financial institutions, you view your transactions as soon as the merchant settles. We like to stay ahead of the game, and we’re always open to suggestions and ideas.

Are credit unions insured? In other words, is my money safe at a credit union?

Just like the FDIC insures money in a regular bank account, the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration) protects the money you have in a credit union account up to $250,000. So yes, we are insured and yes, your money is safe.

What if I want to apply for a loan (either car, personal or a mortgage)?

Applying for a loan at our credit union is easier than the ordinary application process in a bank. We look at who you are as an individual (how long you’ve been a member, work history, quality of your credit and other relevant factors). We work with you, one-on-one to obtain the best financial solutions and interest rates.

Can I apply for a loan online?

Yes! All our loan applications are on our website making it convenient for you to apply for a loan. Once your application is submitted, our loan department reviews the information and contacts you to complete the process.

After reading this post, we hope you feel more welcomed and at ease. If you need additional information or would like to chat further, don’t hesitate to contact us by phone at (310) 834-6411 or via email: blogfeedback@ilwucu.org

Will you make the switch (to a credit union or small bank) or will you wait to see how other banks react? We want your honest feedback.

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About the Author

Alejandra Gutierrez Alex is the new Social Media Specialist for the ILWU Credit Union. She's a 'nerd' at heart who enjoys community building. Her obsessions: baked goods and old mariachi ballads.