Friday, May 16, 2008

It's Time to Ditch your Bank for a Credit Union!

Are you getting ready to ditch your bank for a credit union? It’s about time! If you're sick of getting bombarded with fees, or caught off guard by hidden fees and earning lousy interest rates then now is the time to make a change. Who said that you needed to settle for a bank? Financial relief could be as close as the nearest credit union.

Because so many people are not sure about the differences between banks and credit unions, I'll highlight the most important distinctions for you and explain how credit unions deliver increased savings and better service to their members.

Credit unions operate in many ways like banks but there are some important distinctions. For example, credit union are not-for-profit, cooperative financial institutions. These institutions are managed and directed by members and a volunteer board.
Credit unions serve a specific field of membership defined by their charters. Anyone who falls within the credit union's common bond of affiliation, location or employment can become a member.

Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations and do not make a profit for a select group of stockholders. They are democratically controlled by their members who elect a volunteer Board of Directors from among the membership.
Credit unions also specialize in educating their members to help them achieve a better financial future. Whether it's young savers, college students, first time homebuyers or retirees, credit unions educate members on the best ways to manage their financial resources.
You may be asking yourself, am I eligible to join? Almost certainly! Virtually everyone in the United States can belong to a credit union, thanks to where they live, where they work or the associations to which they belong.

The nation's credit unions count 90 million members, and our trade association estimates members save $8 billion a year thanks to better interest rates and reduced fees. Credit-union-issued credit cards, for example, tend not to have annual fees or to charge punitive interest rates for a single late payment. Most credit unions offer free checking accounts, and penalties for overdrawing those accounts tend to be lower: a $25 or $29 fee is typical, compared with up to the $39 charged by banks.

These differences and the advantages to members of our community are why Hawthorne has joined the iBelong Campaign.

iBelong is a statewide effort by Credit unions across Illinois that are pooling their resources to spread the word about credit unions to consumers in our state. That’s because many consumers just don't know what they're missing by not belonging to a credit union. And those who already belong, may not realize that the reason they're so happy is because of the credit union difference; it’s our not-for-profit, member owned structure that makes us really focus on the needs of our members.

The iBelong campaign is also a beautiful example of the credit union philosophy and spirit. More than one hundred credit unions from across Illinois, many that compete in the same market, have pooled their funds to advertise together. This kind of cooperative spirit is rarely found in other industries.

You can check out the iBelong TV commercials. The campaign shows credit union members telling their stories of why they love their credit union. At Hawthorne, we're running a giveaway contest where you can win a $100 Visa Gift Card if you tell us your story of why you like Hawthorne. Click here for details.

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