Credit Unions and You

Monday, October 03, 2011

How do credit unions fit into recent banking headlines, and how do they compare to larger and community banks? Joan Goldwasser, senior reporter for Kiplingers Personal Finance, and Sarah Ludwig, co-director of New York's Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP) explain.


Joan Goldwasser and Sarah Ludwig

Comments [43]

Mat from New York City - LES

I would like to understand why in this page it said that many credit Unions in NYC have gotten TARP money as well...

I was looking for a Credit Union where to transfer my savings from Chase and here we go... just by chance I found out that perhaps they are ALL the same eventually ? Is somebody able to give me a rational explanation?

Oct. 12 2011 11:22 AM
michael leslie from manhattan

One of your commentors was a good point when he/she asked "why would I not want my money in a bank that is too big to fail as opposed to one that could?"
Lets put it this way, if they fail again they won't get bailed out because there will be no money to do so #1 never mind a popular uprising to rival Bastille Day. #2 Remember that most banks of any stripe will be a member of FDIC which is an automatic insurance for I think up to $100,000 bucks maybe more now. #3 If we make this stand and move our money enmasse it will do what the freemarketeers go on about, we went for a better deal and without a doubt better people. (My loan shark is better people at this point). I'm no radical, but these huge concerns have been using us as their ATM instead of the other way around and as we have seen it will not be changed by Government action. We must act. See you at the credit union

Oct. 09 2011 12:42 PM
Jessica from WV

I have been a member of Nassau Educator's Federal Credit Union since 1993. NEFCU is a well managed bank with a good rating. When I travel abroad I have no trouble using my NEFCU debit card at a foreign ATM. Two years ago I moved from NY and NEFCU is still the only bank I use. My paycheck is directly deposited into my account. I access my money from the state credit union ATM where I am not charged a fee and manage my account through NEFCU's web site.
I refuse to pay a large bank fees to use MY MONEY!!!!

Oct. 04 2011 08:09 AM
Lee from NYC

The other credit union finder site is - and yes, that is spelled correctly.

Some credit unions do offer mortgages on co-ops - e.g. NYC MCU and Bethpage Federal CU - I've found so far.

And some community-development oriented banks offer better deals than the major banks - for example, Urban Partnership Bank [] invests in urban neighborhoods and offers a better online savings rate [1%] than HSBC [0.8%]. These accounts don't require debit card transactions. This differential has been this way for months - not just a fluke of the week.

Oct. 03 2011 07:53 PM
Calls'em from Someplace dry & dusty

Corrected version: Banks go where the money is. Hence fewer banks in poor neighborhoods. 0bama's financial "reform" has definitely raised the cost of banking and credit cards for the average person - and has produced no jobs like every other thing this regime has attempted. Banks are parking their money with the Fed because it is a better deal then lending it out. If you don't like your bank find another. Most people with money travel neighborhood to neighborhood, town to town, state to state and country... and want to have a branch when they get there. YOUR show is dumbed down BY pushing a Marxist ideology. You lose listeners and contributors every day.

Oct. 03 2011 06:07 PM
RCT from NYC

I think this may be it (SY from NYC, take note):

Oct. 03 2011 01:15 PM
RCT from NYC

Can someone post the web site addresses of the two "credit union" finder web sites mentioned this morning by Brian's guests? I wrote down one such web site, "," but not the other one.


Oct. 03 2011 01:14 PM
Alfred Lewis from Lynbrook, New York

I heard you mention NEFCU (Nassau Educators Federal Union) with an incorrect statement about the checking account . I am a Director of NEFCU ( the CU is open to Long Islanders), we have a checking account that offers a 3 1/2% rate up to $25,000.- , if you use your debit card 12 times during the month (at least $5.00), sign up for monthly e-statements, & either direct deposit or online bill pay.

Oct. 03 2011 12:27 PM
Ravi from Allentown, PA

Dear Sir,

Thanks for your segment on community-banks & credit unions.

I used to have an account at BoA at a time when I was earning very less and could not maintain a balance above US$500/- on a sustained basis and was thus nickeled-dimed (& often times quartered and dollared) by BoA.

I was lucky enough to get a job in a company that has affiliation to WesternFCU and opened an account there (about 21 years ago). Since that day I have not paid a single penny in fees, moreover I get features like over-draft protection, a good interest rate on checking and savings accounts, a whole lot of ATM networks to draw money from, a lot of co-ops where I can do deposits etc..

WesternFCU is based in Los Angeles. Since I opened my account I have moved to San Jose and 5 years ago to Philly and still have not found any service lacking. I urge one and all to look CreditUnions as an option.

Thanks. Regards, Ravi.

Oct. 03 2011 11:47 AM
Calls'em from In a place you'd be afraid to be

Banks go where the money is. Hence fewer banks in poor neighborhoods. 0bama's financial "reform" has definitely raised the cost of banking and credit cards for the average person - and has produced no jobs like every other thing this regime has attempted. Banks are parking their money with the Fed because it is a better deal then lending it out. If you don't like your bank find another. Most people with money travel neighborhood to neighborhood, town to town, state to state and country... and want to have a branch when they get there. You show is dumbed down my pushing a Marxist ideology. You lose listeners and contributors every day.

Oct. 03 2011 11:18 AM
Becky from Crown Heights

Check out Brooklyn Cooperative FCU in Bedstuy and Bushwick. They are part of the Allpoint ATM Surcharge free network, are an active SBA lender and have checking accounts without monthly fees. Additional free community services at Brooklyn Coop that you won't find at the banks include free financial counseling, free small business tax advice and foreclosure prevention assistance.

Oct. 03 2011 11:11 AM
Russell Christian from South Orange, NJ

Where many poorer neighborhoods do not have ready access to the bigger banks many wealthier communities do not have access to credit unions. Personally I'd love to place my money where it might be used for the greater good. I thoroughly resent the sense that B of A is about to tax me for using a debit card, a card I use in efforts to avoid the use of credit cards. Once more the big banks are about encouraging credit card abuse.

Oct. 03 2011 11:04 AM
Jennifer from Brooklyn, NY

I closed my account at Chase earlier this year after they started requiring a minimum balance or pay a monthly fee. From there I opened an account at Capital one who still has free checking and an account at Ally bank online. It works out great since there is a Capital one near both my jobs for depositing checks and with the Ally account I can take out money from any ATM and have the fees reimbursed.

Oct. 03 2011 11:04 AM

I currently bank with Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia) and would love to move my money to a credit union. Wells Fargo recently closed my checking account after 30 days of inactivity--I was traveling in Europe and hadn't been using my account. No warning, no notice that my account had been closed. I couldn't help thinking that the whole process would have been different had I been banking with a credit union.

Oct. 03 2011 11:01 AM

In other words, the term "community bank" is just advertising bulls__hit used in an attempt to make people feel all warm and fuzzy about the bank.

Oct. 03 2011 11:00 AM
Jonathan from Brooklyn

I keep an account with PSECU in Pennsylvania. I can deposit checks in my Chase account and then transfer the funds electronically to the credit union. I can withdrawal free at any McDonalds in town. The credit union doesn't charge me a higher APR for a late credit card payment (they send me a kind reminder first) and I have a car loan there as well, at a very good rate. The customer service is clear, friendly, and helpful.

Oct. 03 2011 10:59 AM
Katie from Brooklyn

USAA really is a great deal. They reimburse ATM fees up to $15 per month, no nickel and dime fees, fantastic customer service. They don't have branches but deposits can be made with a scanner, an iphone app, or through postage paid envelopes which are free to customers. No one should be paying the outrageous fees of the big banks!

Oct. 03 2011 10:59 AM
Mary from Mt Kisco

I've belonged to two different credit unions that ended up merging (and I got money as a pay-out of the profits from the one that merged into the other).

My credit union is open to anyone who lives or works in Fairfield County and once you're a member and move, you don't lose your membership.

My checking would be free if I had direct deposit but since I don't I pay $1.53/month and get checking, Surcharge-free ATM through Allpoint, etc. plus access to

Oct. 03 2011 10:58 AM
Phil from Park Slope

This whole fee thing is intended to replace revenue banks were previously getting from merchants, but customers have the ability to avoid the fees by changing their behavior of moving their business in a way that merchants couldn't, so it seems like a pretty cynical and shortsighted move.

Oct. 03 2011 10:58 AM

I have been a member of NYC’s Municipal Credit Union since 1991. They are my primary financial institution. Even though I have a Chase account I use MCU for all my major financial transactions: direct payroll deposit, credit cards, checking and savings. They even gave me an auto loan for a new vehicle. There are no fees and I have free overdraft.

Only drawback limited locations means long lines if you need teller interaction. Otherwise, I am proud to be a MCU member.

Oct. 03 2011 10:57 AM
Lorinda Karoff

Just yesterday I got letter a from Citi Bank saying I would be charged $20.00 per month if I did not keep at least $15,000 balance in my accounts. It used to be only $6k (which I met) and a much smaller fee. I am out of there.

Oct. 03 2011 10:57 AM

Why do people willingly let other people have access to their checking accounts? Good luck if you have a dispute with a vendor over a debit to your account.

I never would use a debit card - just a credit card (and pay the entire bill when it comes in)

Oct. 03 2011 10:57 AM


Oct. 03 2011 10:57 AM
Smokey from LES

There appear to be no credit unions available to me on 52 East 1 Street in LES. Here's what CULOOKKUP.COM says to my address:

We didn't find any credit unions matching that address. Please try again.
(No Records)

Oct. 03 2011 10:57 AM
lesterine from manhattan

i fired BOA and HSBC for too many reasons to enumerate here, but extremely poor customer service is just one.
i bank at berkshire bank, which is a small, local bank with several branches in manhattan and brooklyn.

Oct. 03 2011 10:56 AM
Haym from Manhattan

Yes, the move your money movement is a direct action to support the predatory practices opposed by the Occupy Wall St. protests. Divestiture helped bring down apartheid South Africa.

Divesting from the big banks can be the broad popular action to unseat Wall Street's ruthless class discrimination.

Oct. 03 2011 10:56 AM
M. L. from New York

After having my account abruptly closed by Chase, I opened up an account with the credit union connected with the school I went to, in Illinois. The employees I've talked to are very friendly. But it's inconvenient in that I have to mail in checks. (This is before I got direct deposit through my new job.) Last time I checked, I could deposit checks at like only two ATMs in Manhattan. The credit union informed me it would still take several days for the amount to be verified as the check would still have to be mailed to the brick-and-mortar location. (I now mostly bank with ING, online and through a comprehensive free ATM network.) I've heard great things about USAA and that they're now open to members outside of the military. Maybe one day I'll switch to them.

Oct. 03 2011 10:56 AM
RJ from prospect hts

My community bank--Amalgamated Bank--originated in the labor movement and still works hard to serve working people. They've been actively opening branches and arranging with local ATMs for fee-free usage to make funds more available. The primary problem is that their interest-bearing accounts--as with many small banks--such as savings and money market have lower interest rates than any other, larger banks. I follow the banks that the FDIC took over and stabilized, and their interest rates, and I put my (self-employed) retirement accounts in one of those (whose interest rates aren't that high either, but it's all relative ...) and put necessary fluid money--to pay bills, etc.--in Amalgamated. It's a tough trade-off. I need a place with a high enough interest rate to help my future, and I've looked at credit unions also--theirs aren't any higher.

Oct. 03 2011 10:54 AM
sy from NYC caanot be found. please verify!

Oct. 03 2011 10:54 AM
Beth from Woodside

My CU (nassau eductors federal c.u.) PAYS me to use my debit card as a credit card- 3.5% interest!
I get a rebate for the banking fees I occasionally incur when using the large bank ATMs.
I travel all over the world and never had a problem using my ATM, even in rural China.
Although there aren't that many branches, I used their network to get a bank check for my recent mortgage refi (as it turns out, it was the Taxi driver's credit union).
The only negative is they won't give mortgages on a coop, so I have to use Citibank. Ugh.
Banks are for suckers.

Oct. 03 2011 10:53 AM
Mike J from NYC!

correct url

Oct. 03 2011 10:53 AM
Mike from Inwood

I have been a member of a university Credit Union for a number of years. The only problem I have ever had was that they did not give mortgages on co-op apartments, so I had to go to a standard retail bank for that. I use network ATMs and can take out money with no service charge. The interest on auto loans and credit cards are a little lower than credit from other kinds of institutions. Checking fees are less.

Oct. 03 2011 10:52 AM
Matt from Vermont from Vermont

CU's at #OWS:

Oct. 03 2011 10:51 AM
Jane from Morristown

A word of warning - when my friend's credit union Visa card number was stolen and used for a $100 purchase in another state, she had to go to the police department in her large city, have them write a report, get it notorized and send it to the credit union in North Carolina. For a $100 charge that she caught right away and reported immediately, this was a major hassle.

Oct. 03 2011 10:51 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Citibank recently sent me a letter stating they will not charge me a fee for using a debit card, instead - they will start charging me $15 a month for keeping my checking account if it's below $6000. I will start using my long dormant ING account.

Oct. 03 2011 10:51 AM
Stephanie from colorado

When is a credit union really a credit union? We joined ENT here in colorado because we needed a car loan. After paying off the loan we had a small amount of money still in the 'credit union' which I failed to monitor carefully because I suddenly found out that they put an 'inactive fee' on us and started taking our money from us!

Oct. 03 2011 10:51 AM
Roberta from Brooklyn

I use Amalgamated Bank. Free ATMs at McDonald's, CVS, Riteaid, free everything. And I am supporting the Union label.

Oct. 03 2011 10:50 AM
Matt from Vermont from Vermont

Screw free checking; my checking account *pays* 2% interest. Also, talk about the cooperative ownership structure. My CU history blog:

Oct. 03 2011 10:49 AM
Rct from NYC

Citibank has sent letters to account owners - now setting up a two tier checking acc't system, with fees, for those of us who don't run high monthly balances. BOA not alone in stealing from the poor to keep the rich in Prada.

Oct. 03 2011 10:48 AM
Smokey from LES

Why wouldn't I choose a bank that was "too big to fail?" Why would I want one that could fail?

Oct. 03 2011 10:47 AM
Pope Jon from Ridge, NY

My credit union has very few conveniently located branches and even less ATM's. But I don't feel like I'm getting screwed every time my statement comes in....

Oct. 03 2011 10:47 AM
Tony from Santa Clara, CA

You can search for a CU there too:

Oct. 03 2011 10:47 AM
Tony from Santa Clara, CA

My credit union has more freen ATMs than Bank of America:

And free means I get a $20 bill out of the ATM, $20.00 get deducted from my account

Oct. 03 2011 10:41 AM

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