Walking into a credit union such as Suffolk Federal is like walking into a place where everyone knows your name. As a staple for over 50 years in the local communities where it does business, the non-profit financial institution continues its dedication to providing better banking opportunities for local residents.
It is no wonder that credit union membership is at historical highs. With membership increasing 4.5% last year alone, credit unions are quickly outpacing traditional banks in a number of areas, including twice the growth rate in loans and nearly twice the growth rate in total assets, according to CUInsight. Surveys show that consumers prefer dealing with community organizations since they provide better service and a more personalized experience and the same is true of a credit union. The following five reasons illustrate why people are choosing community credit unions over traditional banks.
1. Membership Means Better Services at Lower Costs
Since credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by members, member’s money isn’t being sent to investors and stock holders. Instead, credit unions offer smart solutions with lower rates on loans, higher rates on savings, and a clear focus on member service. Suffolk Federal, for example, offers lower average rates on car loans, personal unsecured loans, mortgages, home equity loans and credit cards and also offers members higher than average dividends on savings, checking, money market accounts, certificate accounts and IRAs.
What drives this service-oriented focus is the fact that since every member is an owner in the credit union making member service the highest priority. This translates into individualized service based on needs, often referring to members by name, and providing an abundance of benefits not found at traditional banks. Suffolk Federal not only offers what members want from their financial institution—like 10 convenient locations throughout Suffolk County, access to thousands of surcharge-free ATMS nationwide, and the latest mobile technology—but also provides members access to financial planning, insurance and investment services, specialized business lending, First Time Home Buyers programs, free financial literacy education and counseling, identity theft protection, and even discounts to the local performing arts theater.
2. Convenience and Security through State-of-the-Art Technology
Since credit unions are often smaller, community-focused organizations compared to big banks, there is often a misperception that they don’t provide the latest technology. On the contrary, a focus on members’ needs also means offering the latest tools, services and products.
Suffolk Federal provides members a comprehensive web platform, with streamlined design and efficient functionality, state-of-the-art enhancements and a mobile responsive, user-friendly experience. Innovative user options provide faster and easier access to useful tools, resources, information and online services. Suffolk Federal has also seen significant growth in the use of their latest digital-based technology mobile banking platform and electronic budget tools.
3. Owned by the Community means Involvement in the Community
Credit union loans go to members and businesses in the community, supporting “main street” businesses and keeping members’ money in the community where members live. With local knowledge and personal relationships, credit unions can also be more flexible than traditional banks when a small business requests a loan, considering factors larger banks simply cannot. Large banks are also not structured to give back to the local communities from which they make profits. Credit unions by their nature are committed to the financial and overall health of their local communities. For example, in 2018, Suffolk Federal provided nearly $100,000 to support local nonprofits and charitable organizations focused on specific causes on Long Island. And more recently. Suffolk Federal has become an official partner of Suffolk County Community College ensuring that students have access to education by offering scholarships to local students and gifting the school nearly $1.8 million as part of a partnership between the two organizations.
4. Commitment to the Future of Communities through Green Initiatives
Credit unions share the goal of their members to work on long term community sustainability. Recognizing the importance of reducing the carbon footprint in the communities where they do business, Suffolk Federal added additional emphasis on the importance of sustainability in local branches. For example, the credit union’s implemented a recent initiative to install clean energy solar panels on several of their branch rooftops in order to become more environmentally responsible.
5. Outperforming Banks, One Community at a Time
Members often say when they walk into a lobby of their credit union, they experience the unique feeling that they own a part of the whole operation. And when they leave, that feeling is confirmed by their customer-focused treatment, with seamless access to the products and services they expect. This factor highlights the reason credit unions have seen higher than average growth rates than traditional banks for years and will continue to do so by offering better services, innovative technology and lower costs and being intimately involved with the communities they serve.