ATLANTA (3/23/12)--Georgia residents are moving their money to credit unions at a rising pace, with membership growing statewide by 3.3% in 2011, one percentage point higher than the 2.3% growth credit unions experienced in 2010.
State consumers are taking advantage of lower fees and better interest rates on services from new- and used-car loans, to savings and checking accounts, according to the semi-annual Member Benefits Index study released Thursday by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA). Total assets at credit unions statewide increased 6.5% during the year (PR Newswire March 22).
The report also indicated that Georgia credit unions last year provided nearly $114.2 million in direct financial benefits to the state's 1.8 million-plus members. Those benefits--better interest rates and fewer and lower fees--average $62 per member or $118 per member household, said GCUA.
The savings have attracted new credit union members in record numbers. More than 24,700 Georgians joined credit unions in the fourth quarter.
"Although the economy has begun to show steady improvement, Georgians remain cautious and continue to seek financially prudent alternatives that help them afford life," said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO and newly elected Credit Union National Association board chair.
On average, fees at credit unions are $5 less than banks for checking accounts, $15 less than banks for credit card late fees and $29 less than banks for mortgage and closing costs.
Also, interest rates for many loans are lower at credit unions than other financial institutions. For example, financing a new $25,000 automobile for 60 months through a Georgia credit union will save members an average of $175 per year in interest expenses, compared to costs at a bank, GCUA said.
The report, compiled by Datatrac, a rate survey firm, uses information from the state's 149 credit unions, and also banking institutions.