A credit union offers an excellent place to get loans and deposit your savings with attractive interest rates. Also, as a credit union serves the local community, their money and focus is on your own community. Unfortunately, credit unions are still not well publicized and many people are worried by the idea of opening a checking account with a credit union. This is because the terms “membership” and “eligibility criteria” are often bandied around. Despite the intimidating sound of these words, in fact becoming a credit union member isn’t as hard as it sounds.
What Do You Need To Become A Credit Union Member?
If you wish to open an account with your local credit union you will need:
- To meet the credit union’s eligibility criteria.
- Make a deposit in order to become a member
Credit unions are not-for-profit organisations and this means that they have restricted membership. Some are only open to people who live in a particular geographical area while others are only open to those who work in a particular industry or who are members of a specific organisation.
To become a member of a credit union you will therefore have to have common bonds with the credit unions other members. Some factors which may make your eligible include:
- Your employment – some employers have a relationship with a particular credit union with all employees being granted membership
- Your community – if you live in a particular area you may be eligible to join a community based organisation
- Your family – if you have a relative who meets the requirements you may find that you too are eligible to become a member
- Your occupation – some credit unions are open to anyone who works in a particular occupation regardless of which employer they work for
- Your membership of certain organisations – some credit unions are open to members of certain organisations such as trade bodies or churches
Making A Deposit
If you wish to become a member of a credit union and you meet all of the eligibility criteria you will need to pay a deposit in order to open your account. Usually, the amount that you will be required to deposit will be lower than the deposit amount required by a bank to open a similar account. The amount that you pay as your deposit is a “share”. It then establishes you as one of the credit union’s members and you are given full rights of ownership including the ability to receive dividends and to vote on decisions.
How Do You Find A Credit Union That Accepts You As A Member?
If you want to join a credit union but don’t know where to begin, you need to start researching in your local area. Ask the people that you work with, your family, friends and neighbours if they use a credit union and if so, what the criteria is for membership. You may also be able to search online to find a credit union that will accept you as a member by using a search tool.