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1. Owning Your Share. By joining a credit union you are becoming part of an organization to which you are a Member. No matter what the balance is in your account, you have a say in the future of your credit union. You are entitled to elect fellow members to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors adapts policies and procedures that affect the credit union’s operation. They also determine dividend and loan rates.

2. Personalized Service. The service you get from a bank can be rather cold. You might feel like just a number instead of an individual. Credit unions go out of their way to give better service than a bank can offer. They pride themselves on personalized service.

3. Competitive Dividend Rates. Most credit unions offer dividend rates that are higher than a bank. Special accounts are also offered to help you get the best rate depending upon the amount of your deposit.

4. No Fee Checking Accounts. Most credit unions offer checking accounts that have no monthly fee, offer free checks, and some of them even pay dividends, based on your account balance.

5. Other Accounts and Services. Credit unions offer more than just savings and checking accounts. Most offer money market accounts. This type of account earns a higher rate of dividends based on a higher monthly balance you must maintain. IRAs, CDs, and Holiday Club Accounts are also offered at most credit unions.

6. Competitive Loan Interest Rates. Most credit unions offer interest rates that are substantially lower than banks or finance companies. This means a lower monthly payment on your loan, and probably a better term as well. Loan programs vary depending on which Credit Union you belong too, but most offer loans for automobiles, unsecured loans, credit cards, homes, and vacations. Check with your local credit union branch to determine what loan programs they offer.

7. ATM Access. Most credit unions offer ATM access for their members, usually at no-fee ATM locations. This means that you can use an ATM machine without having to pay an access fee—which usually runs anywhere from $.75 to 1.75. Check with your credit union to determine which ATMs are fee-free.

8. Real Estate Lending. Forget going to a bank for your mortgage needs. Most credit unions offer competitive mortgage rates and home equity lines of credit. Turnaround time for these loans is usually equal to a bank.

9. Credit Card Programs. Most credit unions offer a Visa or MasterCard. Approval is based upon your credit worthiness, as is the credit limit. Visa debit cards are usually offered as well.

10. Notary Service. Most banks will charge you a fee for notary service. If you have an account with a credit union, you can usually get notary service for no charge.

These are just some of the programs offered at most credit unions. With this basic information in mind, make sure to check out your local credit union and see for yourself what they can offer you versus a bank. You will be pleasantly surprised.