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Why October 19th is a good day to love your credit union

Since 1948, International Credit Union Day has recognized what makes CUs unique: They have always put members first. At Tropical Financial you can become a member if you work, live, or worship in one of nine Florida counties or if you work at a company that has a partnership with the financial institution.

If you are already a member, you know what makes credit unions special. But here’s a refresher in case you want to tell one of your friends why they should consider joining as well.

Members, not stockholders, own credit unions. Investors own banks, whether the institutions are privately held or publicly traded. Their success is measured by how much profit and market value they generate for those stakeholders. Credit unions make decisions based on what is best for members. That influences which savings and borrowing accounts they offer, how borrowers are treated, and how much account holders are charged for services.

CU employees are members, too. The people who work in the branches and back offices have a personal stake in their institution’s success. They share that common interest with borrowers and savers. Employees help other members with accounts and services tailored to their individual and business needs.

Members have a voice. While only shareholders can vote on a bank’s policies and major decisions, all CU members have a say in running their institution. Every member can vote on important matters and can gain access to the board of directors who are members, too.

CU rates are often better. Credit unions typically offer lower interest rates than banks on loans and credit cards, resulting in potential savings and reduced financial burden for members. They pay higher returns on savings accounts and certificates of deposit than banks in the same area, according to Bankrate. They can also have lower minimums to open an account. For example, Tropical Financial requires only $1 to open a savings account and $500 for a CD.

CUs often charge lower fees. They tend to have fewer and lower fees for services such as ATM usage, account maintenance, and overdrafts than commercial banks. For example, Tropical Financial’s Daily Rewards Debit checking account has no monthly or ATM fees, and no minimum balance requirement.

CUs have a global reach. Many credit unions are part of cooperative networks, providing members access to a broader range of ATMs at branches and stores on multiple continents.

CUs value the human touch. National and regional banks have touch-phone services, automated website chats, and other customer service methods. Talking to a real person can be difficult. CUs prioritize connecting employee-members to members in branches, on the phone, and online.

Credit unions educate members. They actively offer free financial literacy programs so that consumers and businesses make better-informed decisions. For example, Tropical Financial has on its website for anyone auto-buying advice, financial fitness tools, and Get Beyond Money.

CUs value stability. In March, Silicon Valley Bank became the nation’s second-largest failure. Signature Bank went under at the same time. While consumer and market fears led First Republic Bank to follow in May, no credit unions were closed or taken over by regulators as a result. By charter and policy, credit unions have conservative lending and deposit account practices, plus federal deposit insurance like that at banks.

Credit unions are all about community. That philosophy goes back to 1908 when a credit association was formed in Massachusetts to serve primarily Franco-American mill workers. Today, Tropical Financial serves residents in nine counties. It builds on a promise made 85 years ago to make South Florida a better community.

If you would like to know more about joining Tropical Financial Credit Union and how it can benefit you and your family, please visit www.tropicalfcu.com.

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