How to Join a Credit Union and Open an Account

Credit unions are financial institutions that operate like banks. They deal with gathering and loaning out of money and providing financial services. However, unlike banks, they prioritize the concerns of their members rather than their shareholders.

Where standard banks are ultimately focused on turning a profit and tend to charge higher interest rates on loans and less on savings, credit unions are owned and operated by the members. They operate like nonprofits that put the needs of their members above all. As a result, they can offer lower fees, better savings rates, and lower interest loans.

These advantages make sense for many people to find a credit union to replace their normal banking services.

Difference Between Credit Union and a Bank

A question on the mind of anyone considering credit unions is whether credit unions or major banks are better for your money. The primary difference between the two is that credit unions are run by their members. As a result, the credit union typically has more money to invest back into benefits for its membership.

Other minor differences between the two may impact your experience. For instance, credit unions can offer improved customer service and special loans like T&I Credit Union’s Holiday Loan. In contrast, big banks may offer slightly better loan rates, although the higher fees typically undercut these savings. Credit unions also tend to be more local than large national banks.

Loaning from credit unions is not too different from taking loans at ordinary banks. Both types of financial institutions offer credit cards, loans, savings accounts, and retirement accounts.

How to Find a Credit Union

Some people believe joining a credit union is difficult because membership is typically required to join. To avoid running into problems, research the membership requirements of any credit union you’re interested in ahead of time. Usually, credit unions look for some form of a common bond among credit union members.

For example, by applying online, you can join the T&I Credit Union in about 10 minutes. The membership field includes anyone who can say they live, work, or worship in Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw, or Wayne Counties, MI.

Other examples of credit unions include The Christian Community Credit Union, formed around a central understanding of the Christian faith, and the Navy Credit Union, which serves U.S. Department of Defense employees.

A quick Google search can pull up a comprehensive list of credit unions along with the requirements you need to meet to join them. You may find you’re eligible for various unions based on the organization and industry you work in, the town you live in, or if you have family members with existing accounts.

If you need more help finding a union, The National Credit Union Administration offers a credit union locator online. To use it, try searching within your local area, finding a list of options, and then checking them individually to see if you’re eligible to join.

How to Apply to Join a Credit Union

Once you’ve decided on a credit union that you’re eligible to join, the next step is the application process. For T&I Credit Union, this means coming into one of our branches. T&I Credit Union has two branch locations in Clawson, Michigan and Troy, Michigan.

A deposit needs to be made representing your purchase of a share in the credit union. To do this, open an account with our credit union in person. You will need to provide details for the account, including your Social Security number, identification, physical address, and why you’re eligible to join.

Deposit a modest sum, potentially as small as $5 for our regular savings accounts to $25 for our share draft checking account, into your balance. Even after you make initial deposits, some credit unions may still require a minimum amount in the account at all times, so plan your budget accordingly.

For instance, T&I Credit Union has a minimum $5 balance requirement at all times for saving accounts and a minimum $25 balance required for checking accounts.

Once you’ve completed this step, you can use your account like any other banking service. For example, at T&I Credit Union, you can set up direct deposits, online bill payments, checking accounts, saving accounts, and regular balance alerts.

Advantages of Credit Unions

Credit unions can offer uniquely personalized service experiences. A local credit union can give you direct access to the people making decisions about your finances.

Credit unions also typically boast special accounts, like T&I’s money market accounts meant to allow people with small sums to build up investments and start earning interest. Furthermore, credit unions are an excellent option for keeping your money local.

A federal credit union is a safe option for your money. Credit Unions are federally insured through the National Credit Union Association, which provides $250,000 in depositor’s insurance per person.

T&I Credit Union also has some unique selling points. Because of corporate partnerships, we can offer special deals with services like TruStage and TurboTax. Our checking accounts also boast a 1% monthly interest rate provided members have signed up with our direct deposit and online banking options. We also offer our points and rewards program for purchases made using our credit cards.

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Closing Thoughts

At T&I Credit Union, we are built on providing the same services as major banks while offering improved and personalized customer service. We are based in Michigan but share branch locations with a network of credit unions across the country to provide you with better access to your money. For more information on opening an account at T&I Credit Union, call us at (248) 397-9471.

About Alice Lastrova

A writer with experience in community newsrooms and financial magazines. Avid chef, busy banker, and lover of my cat.