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Here's Why Switching To A Credit Union Could Make 2022 A Better Year For You

There are serious benefits to being a member.

Here's Why Switching To A Credit Union Could Make 2022 A Better Year For You

As the end of 2021 nears, you might be reflecting on the past 12 months and considering what you want for yourself in 2022. Make it your year by setting some concrete monetary goals for yourself.

Hoping for some financial prosperity ahead? The first step to setting yourself up for success: doing some research on your current bank.

There's a good chance the company that you bank with was chosen by your parents when you were younger, and that relationship likely continued out of convenience. But there are so many other options for you to explore when it comes to your money.

An alternative way to manage your finances is through your local credit union.

Courtesy of Sierra Riley

So, What Is A Credit Union Anyway?

A credit union is a secure and well-regulated financial institution, just like a bank. But credit union members aren't just customers — they're actually owners.

Credit unions take a community-focused approach to banking, so you'll need to purchase a membership share in order to open an account.

While the cost varies depending on the credit union you choose, membership shares can be as low as $1 and are returned to you if you choose to close your account.

Credit Unions Vs. Banks

Just like a bank, credit unions have online options as well as brick-and-mortar locations where you can do your in-person banking. Credit union-issued debit cards or credit cards are also accepted anywhere a traditional debit or credit card is accepted.

Credit union members can also access surcharge-free ATMs across the country through the ACCULINK shared service and the Exchange Network.

Canada's credit unions are so well known for their great customer service that they've won the Ipsos Customer Service Excellence Award for 17 years in a row.

But while credit unions and banks seem similar — they both offer a wide variety of banking products, like chequing and savings accounts, lines of credit, loans and mortgages — there are some key differences between the two.

One big difference: as a member of a credit union, you get a say in how it is run — and all members have equal influence.

Benefits Of A Credit Union

If you love to shop locally for your groceries and clothes, credit unions provide you with an opportunity to manage your money locally too. Credit unions strive to make a positive impact in their local communities by contributing to the economic, social and environmental well-being of the places they serve.

In 2019, Canada's Credit Unions contributed over $53 million through donations and sponsorships, and staff volunteered over 300,000 hours.

Credit unions also promote financial literacy, provide access to funding and financial rewards, and support homeownership.

While it's common for people to seek mortgage loans from traditional lenders such as banks, credit unions are another great way for Canadians to get into the housing market.

Credit unions offer their members hands-on services to help them succeed. In fact, they are among the largest lenders to homeowners in the country. To date, credit unions have given $131 billion in residential mortgages and recorded the lowest rate of mortgages in arrears at 0.13 percent.

Who Can Join A Credit Union?

Over 5.9 million Canadians use a credit union — not sure where your nearest one is? You'll find locations in both small towns and big cities. In hundreds of communities across Canada, a credit union is actually the only brick-and-mortar financial institution available.

If you want to start the new year off right by taking control of your finances, it can be as easy as setting a budget and sticking to it, having a no-spend day once a week or setting up pre-authorized money transfers with your new credit union so that you can save without even thinking about it.

No matter what your financial goal is — your first house, a new car, a renovation or a dream trip — Canada's Credit Unions could help you get there.

Find your nearest credit union on Canada's Credit Unions' website or learn more by following them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

This content is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, investment, legal, tax or accounting advice.

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