WASHINGTON (3/20/13)--More consumers are looking to credit unions during tough economic times because of better interest rates on checking and saving accounts and more consumer-friendly products, according to an article that appeared in several military publications.
Since 2004, credit union membership is up 12%, rising to a total of 93.8 million members last year, according to the National Credit Union Administration, said the Army Times (March 25). The article, "Making a Case for Credit Unions," also appeared in Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force publications. The Credit Union National Association provided information for the story.
Credit unions are a good fit to serve mobile military populations, Retired Army Col. Roland "Arty" Arteaga, DCUC president, told the publications. The Defense Credit Union Council has 210 member credit unions, he added.
"Once a member always a member," Arteaga told the publications. "With technology the way it is, you don't physically have to walk into any particular facility. You can conduct your transactions from any part of the world."
Some credit unions that were founded to serve military members have expanded outside of the military, the article said. "For example, Security Service FCU [in San Antonio] was founded by service members but has greatly expanded it field of membership," the article explained. "Troops and their families now make up less than 10% of the credit union's membership base."
The article also featured a sidebar about several credit unions that serve military communities and that are offering products to help those affected by sequestration--not military personnel who are currently unaffected, but rather spouses of military members and military retirees who work for the federal government as civilians. Andrews FCU, Joint Base Andrews, Md., and Redstone FCU, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., are offering a "Sequestration Bridge Loan" and "Furlough Assistance Loan" respectively, each up to $5,000 to those displaced from their jobs, the article said.
In a related matter, Tinker FCU (TFCU) in Oklahoma City, with $2.9 billion in assets, is telling it members who receive furlough letters in the aftermath of the federal budget sequestration to bring them into the credit union for assistance. It has about one-third of it 270,000 members relying on the U.S Air Force for their livelihoods (Journal Record March 18).
TFCU will provide free planning, special loan repayment arrangements--such as skipping a payment--and a reduction in short-term loan-interest rates. "We don't want to get [members] into long-term debt to solve a short-term problem," Matt Stratton, TFCU marketing vice president, told the Journal Record.