MADISON, Wis. (9/8/10)--Credit unions have unique characteristics that allow them to help consumers in a troubled economy, according to some recent media reports. Some examples are:
* In an Aug. 29 letter to the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, Susie Preston, CEO of Buckeye State CU, Akron, wrote: “Credit unions have found themselves in a relatively unique position as a result of the economy. Assets at Ohio credit unions are up nearly 8% in 12 months. When the stock market sours, consumers tend to liquidate and find a safe haven for their savings. Typically, credit unions offer higher interest rates on savings, and while savings rates are down universally, consumers look for any advantage when it comes to positive returns.” To read the letter, use the link. * A Sept. 2 post on the Mint.com blog titled “Bank or Credit Union? You Decide,” touts credit unions’ differences over banks. “The profits credit unions make are passed onto members," for instance "in the form of lower fees," the article said. “That is why credit unions typically offer higher rates on savings, lower fees and lower rates on loans than banks. They also offer online banking, ATM’s with no surcharge and overdraft protection,” and, the blog posting noted, "credit unions offer financial education and counseling without giving potential members a hard sell on their products." Credit unions “focus more on service and less on profitability,” the article noted. To read the post, use the link. * Consumers who are looking to change banks also should consider credit unions, according to an Aug. 31 Chicago Sun-Times article, titled “Switch banks with caution; Lots of deals out there, but know ins, outs first.” “Shop around and include big banks, small community banks, credit unions and online banks in the search … Smaller community banks and credit unions may have a more limited product lineup, but consumers tend to get a better deal in terms of higher rates on deposits, lower rates and lower fees on many loan products, as compared to their larger bank competitors,” the article said. To read the article, use the link.