What Makes a Good Credit Union?

The most accommodating credit unions offer shared branching, which allows consumers to conduct transactions in person through a nationwide network of affiliated institutions, according to Bankrate. Consumers also have access to ATMS from member institutions without paying fees. Good credit unions stay up to date on fraud prevention and identity theft technology to protect confidential consumer data, such as account passwords.

As not-for-profit institutions, good credit unions focus on providing services that are financially beneficial to account holders, MyCreditUnion.gov states. For example, many credit unions that are not part of a large shared-branching system still offer fee reimbursement for out-of-network ATMs. Other common services include overdraft protection, home equity loans, mortgage loans and business loans. The most financially reliable credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, so up to $250,000 of each account holder’s funds is protected by the federal or state government.

Reputable credit unions typically reduce the cost of banking as much as possible by offering free checking accounts and credit cards and maintaining low rates on loans, according to The Washington Post. Since these organizations serve the interests of members and not shareholders, they are able to use profits to improve interest costs and savings rates. They also care about the financial well-being of account holders and provide educational services, such as budget and debt counseling, or offer guidance for specific goals, including retirement investments and college savings, Bankrate states.