NEW YORK (Filed at 9:43 a.m. CT 6/10/10)--More than 1.2 million Americans joined a credit union in 2009, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) told MSNBC.com. The growth is significant, with credit unions now having nearly 10% of the household savings in the U.S.--their biggest share ever, the news outlet said. The article attributes the growth to "public backlash from the financial meltdown and government bailout" of banks. "Memberships increased more than one-and-a-half times faster than the growth in the U.S. population," CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica said in the article. Nearly one in four Americans now belongs to a credit union. "Twenty years of surveys show credit unions are really trusted and highly regarded; the most trusted sector in the financial services industry," Mica told MSNBC.com. "Credit unions have always invested rather conservatively, so they didn't get caught up in all of the recent loan losses." The article cites a new Bankrate.com study that shows "free checking is alive and well at credit unions." It also points out that members are owners, not stockholders, and quotes Noreen Perrotta, money editor at Consumer Reports, who says that at credit unions, "you are as important as the next depositor. In a mega bank, if you don't have a large amount on deposit, you may get slammed with more fees and you may feel like you're not that important to them." Consumers saved $7.3 billion--$81 per member--in 2009 by using credit unions, said the article. It also cites Tukwila, Wash.-based BECU's aggressive advertising campaign, "Switch Now or Pay Later" and discusses shared branching. The article also points to CUNA's credit union locator at creditunion.coop. For the full article, use the resource link.