Do You Be­long in a Credit Union?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - CREDIT UNION SUPPLEMENT - By Nel­cia Charle­magne

This year’s an­nual In­ter­na­tional Credit Union (ICU) Day on Oc­to­ber 19 takes place un­der the theme “Dreams Thrive Here” – cel­e­brat­ing the spirit of the global credit union. The World Coun­cil of Credit Unions be­lieves ICU is ‘the op­por­tu­nity to en­cour­age credit union mem­bers to get en­gaged, share their life ex­pe­ri­ences and cel­e­brate how credit unions have made an im­pact on their life choices’. ICU Day fes­tiv­i­ties are on­go­ing world­wide and aim to gen­er­ate aware­ness in an ef­fort to boost mem­ber­ship to credit unions in or­der to achieve the World Coun­cil’s Vi­sion goal of ‘adding 50 mil­lion new mem­bers by the year 2020’.

With large banks es­tab­lish­ing a rep­utable name all over the world, it would be easy to be more in­clined to con­duct fi­nan­cial busi­ness there. But the lure of a house­hold name shouldn’t be the only de­cid­ing fac­tor when it comes to the ever im­por­tant in­vest­ment of a per­son’s money. Credit unions are just as im­por­tant, and per­haps even more ben­e­fi­cial if you re­ally un­der­stand all the perks of­fered. Though credit unions and banks of­fer many of the same ser­vices - check­ing ac­counts, sav­ings ac­counts and the ac­qui­si­tion of loans - some char­ac­ter­is­tics of small credit unions over­ride those of large banks.

Credit unions are non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions and, be­cause of this, are able to pro­vide higher in­ter­est rates on sav­ings and lower in­ter­est rates on loans, which makes for wiser bank­ing. The need for per­sonal loans to cover a mul­ti­tude of sit­u­a­tions would be bet­ter ac­quired at a credit union where in­ter­est per­cent­ages are usu­ally lower than tra­di­tional banks. With year-round pro­mo­tions on loans and the added op­tion to re­fi­nance, us­ing a credit union over a bank as your loan in­sti­tu­tion cre­ates less fi­nan­cial bur­den.

All credit unions are, in essence, owned by the mem­bers of the com­mu­nity. Your first de­posit in any credit union au­to­mat­i­cally makes you a mem­ber and gives you an in­put as to how busi­ness is con­ducted. An­nual Gen­eral Meet­ings al­low for the gen­er­a­tion of ideas from the com­mu­nity and the pur­chas­ing of shares in the in­sti­tu­tion. In Saint Lu­cia many credit unions cater to a spe­cial sec­tor of the cit­i­zenry, be it teach­ers, farm­ers or civil ser­vants.

Credit unions are rep­utable for won­der­ful cus­tomer ser­vice. From ex­pe­ri­ence, my lo­cal credit union is ex­tremely com­mu­ni­ty­ori­ented: a place where your teller and even the door­man know you by name. In keep­ing with com­mu­nity spirit, credit unions help with ed­u­ca­tional costs through the pro­vi­sion of schol­ar­ships to chil­dren of mem­bers. In Septem­ber the St Lu­cia Work­ers’ Credit Union (SLWCU) awarded schol­ar­ships and bur­saries to top Com­mon En­trance per­form­ers who were chil­dren of the mem­bers of the credit union. The Civil Ser­vice Credit Union also awarded schol­ar­ships to seven more stu­dents dur­ing their two-year ten­ure at the Sir Arthur Lewis Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

If you want to en­joy the same ser­vice that a large bank would pro­vide you, while pay­ing out lower in­ter­est rates on loans and re­ceiv­ing higher in­ter­est rates on your sav­ings, a credit union is def­i­nitely the place for you. If that isn’t enough, the pro­vi­sion of in­sur­ance, in­dem­nity plans and the high value to which your opin­ions on the in­sti­tu­tion are held, make for good rea­sons to join a credit union. Your in­vest­ment is valu­able to both your­self and the com­mu­nity.

Credit unions are known for their cus­tomer-ori­ented ser­vice and low in­ter­est rates.

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