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Bankrate: Five Doors To CU Membership
MADISON, Wis. (3/20/13)--While credit unions have membership requirements, most consumers qualify for membership at a credit union. A Bankrate.com article outlined the different "flavors" of credit unions that serve consumers' interests.

The article cited Credit Union National statistics that track about 7,200 credit unions in the U.S.

"There's a credit union for everyone," Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO told Brankrate.com. "You just have to find it."

The article points readers to aSmarterChoice.org to find a credit union that serves their needs.

Bankrate.com cited five types of credit unions that consumers are eligible to join. They include:

  • University credit unions, which are usually open to alumni, faculty, students and nearby residents, the article said. At the University of Southern California CU in Los Angeles, students, alumni and staff can use the credit union's three on-campus branches. Los Angeles residents are also eligible for membership.
  • Community development financial institutions, which serve consumers of low- to moderate-income. The CDFI designation allows them to apply for government grants to open multiple branches in hard-hit communities, Pamela Owens, vice president of programs for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, told Bankrate.com. For example, members of Alternatives FCU in Ithaca, N.Y., can get free tax preparation and a seven-week financial education course.
  • Credit unions with ties to special causes. For example some credit unions are building their memberships around green initiatives and sustainability, the article said. Since being founded in 2000, Permaculture CU in Santa Fe, N.M., has funded $15.2 million in loans to support sustainable living projects such as energy-saving cars, microloans to farmers and educating the public on permaculture, a design principle that promotes self-sustaining ecosystems.
  • Church-based credit unions, which have a long history within the credit union system. The Alliance Catholic CU in Ann Arbor, Mich., for example, serves several Catholic parishes and offers 48-month auto loans at less than 2%, and debit and credit cards. Many church-based credit unions have extended eligibility to their surrounding communities, the article said.
  • Military credit unions, which serve the needs of service members, their families and veterans. One such credit union, Service CU in Portsmouth, N.H., offers free checking accounts with no minimum deposit, online banking, free bill pay and rewards debit cards to its members.
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