Why I've always banked at a Credit Union.

She being [Bank of America, Chase, insert your favorite big name bank here.]

On the heels of this past year's Bank Transfer Day on Facebook call for Americans to transfer their money out of their fee-guzzling bank and put it instead into a Credit Union, I laughed a knowing laugh.

"Well, duh," I thought.

"Took 'em long enough to figure that out."

You see, I've never had a bank account.

My money has always been at a Credit Union. Since I was a child.

I never really *thought* about banking, as it was just one of those utilitarian services that one must employ like getting a driver's license or waiting for the cable guy. You get money, you put it in a bank. My parents were both teachers, so our family "bank" was the Teacher's Credit Union. I never thought twice about it. I assumed that the way my parent's bank behaved was the way all banks behaved.

Once I was out of college and in my new city of Dallas, I put my first paycheck in the Credit Union that was next door to my first job's office. I still never really thought about what a Credit Union is versus what a bank is, I picked it because my childhood bank was a "Credit Union". Since that childhood experience was good, I chose something familiar.

And besides that, it was right next door to my new office. And I'm all about easy.

My money is still there.
Fast forward 25 years, and my money is still there in that exact same credit union.

So are most of the employees who have handled my money.

Even though I've moved 5 times in 25 years (even doing a year in New York City) I've always had my money at that Credit Union.

You know how much I've paid in fees in 25 years? $0. Yep, that's right. They don't charge me fees. I didn't even realize until recently that this isn't what all banks do.

They know me. They know my family.
They've seen my kids grow up and ask about them every time I go thru the drive thru. They make sure Luka gets his blue raspberry lollipop every time too.

They sell me hugely discounted Six Flags tickets when I want them.

They've financed two cars for me so I didn't have to go thru the hassle with the car dealer, and was guaranteed the Fleet Price on the cars without negotiation.

My Credit Union once gave me a $20,000 unsecured loan when I was trying to figure out how to keep my house.

I even married a man who banked at a Credit Union. It's one of the many reasons that made him even more attractive.

Credit Union Services. It's the same stuff. Without the price tag.
They have ATMs and ATM cards. Some even refund ATM fees from other ATMs back to you.

They have Free Checking Accounts. Free Savings Accounts. Free Kids Accounts.

CDs with better interest.

They link my savings account to my checking account *just in case* I accidentally have an overdraft. And then I never have an overdraft.

They've made money orders for me. Wired money for me. Set up automatic payments for me.

They issue credit cards, debit cards, lines-of-credit.

They have on-line account functionality and phone account functionality.

And what do I pay for all of these services? Nothing. They actually pay me. They combine my savings and checking balances and pay me interest on my balance monthly. Does your bank do all that for nothing? I'm guessing probably not.

Credit Unions don't make money.

They make community. I looked at the monthly income and expenses sheet that my Credit Union posts on the front desk every month. The money in and out balance out to $0. Every month. They are not-for-profit entities that invest your money back into your community. It goes around and comes around.

My accounts are still FDIC insured, just like yours.

But I get to feel good knowing that my money is helping build my community and help my neighbors.

Make Bank Transfer Day today.
It's fairly easy to join a Credit Union. Most have policies that let you "join" if your home or business is within a certain mile-radius of the Credit Union. Or, if you work in an industry that has a specialty Credit Union (like my parent's Teacher's Credit Union). Find a Credit Union near you here.

See what they have to offer you compared to what you are getting from your bank right now. Last November, thousands of people started moving their money. They're still doing it today. And me, I just chuckled and wondered why they hadn't done it sooner.

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