A credit union is a member-owned financial cooperative. Unlike commercial banks, credit unions exist solely to provide services for their member-owners. Rather than maximizing profits to generate wealth for their shareholders, credit unions are nonprofit organizations, required by law to reinvest revenue back into the credit union itself. That means that instead of gambling your money on environmentally destructive and financially risky fossil fuel projects, a credit union uses your deposits to improve banking services, interest rates, and financial opportunities for you and your fellow member-owners.
Credit unions are a perfect option for anyone looking to divest their personal accounts from the big banks. Most credit unions offer all of the services that are available from their for-profit counterparts, from checking, savings, and credit card accounts to loans and mortgages to investment management.
With so many financial cooperatives chartered in the Austin area, here are some tips for choosing the credit union that’s right for you:
1. Check out our map to see which Austin credit unions are conveniently located for you.
2. Credit unions are chartered to serve specific communities. These can be defined geographically by where you live, as well as by affiliations such as schools and universities or employers. See our list of Austin credit unions for an overview of membership requirements. In many cases if a family member qualifies for membership, you will too.
3. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) provides detailed information about different credit unions. You can use their Research a Credit Union tool to investigate assets, membership, longevity, and more.
Federal credit unions are chartered through the NCUA and insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), just like how the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) backs commercial bank deposits. Non-federal credit unions are chartered by state governments, but most are still insured by the NCUA; you can also use the Research a Credit Union tool to make sure your deposits will be NCUA-insured.
4. Don’t forget to consider all the financial services you require or desire. Visit individual credit union websites or stop by a branch to learn more about mobile banking, credit cards, rates for new and refinanced loans, investment options, and other features you may be looking for in a bank.