Credit unions or banks: What do they do for you?

Credit unions or banks: What do they do for you?

By Alice Melzer

“Despite seven interest-rate increases by the Federal Reserve since 2015, many banks have resisted rewarding deposit customers with higher rates.” So wrote Rachel Louise Ensign in the Wall Street Journal, published, June 23-24, 2018.

What is fascinating is this: Credit Unions and, in particular, the Port Washington Federal Credit Union have been increasing their interest rates on savings, including CD Accounts. Yet, consumers are reluctant to place money in Savings with either banks or credit unions. World politics aside, saving money in your mattress makes a lumpy bed and will not make you any richer. Here is some financial education that will.

Look inside your wallet. You probably have credit cards from multiple sources. Turn on your phone. It is likely you have apps for one or more checking accounts. Now is a great time to review your cash as in where is it? What is it doing, and will you need to make some changes?

Although credit unions and banks have been around for many years they are different. Both can and will offer savings and loans; yet their business structure and consumer base are different.

Credit unions are not for-profit organizations. Each member, regardless of their amount on deposit has one share. A credit union’s territory or charter may include: a specific region, a professional and or group. Profits made by credit unions generally become re-invested. The rewards may include goods, services and better membership rates.

If you are reading this article, you are keenly aware money equals independence. What is autonomy? Originally credit unions facilitated those who would ordinarily be bypassed by traditional banks. Underserved means: recent immigrants and individuals with emerging credit. Are you in this group? Is your bank or credit union over charging you for goods and services? Is it time to make a switch?

Let’s revisit the past and how it affects your finances today. Everybody who lives in Nassau County likely has relatives or friends from someplace else. Gone are the days when people lived and worked within 10 miles from their birthplace. Consider your children. Does your bank or credit union have a children’s savings account? How much would it cost to open one? With an initial deposit of $5 you can open our Youth Savings Account. Ours are designed to grow with your children.

“In 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, creating a national system to charter and to supervise federal credit unions” (

Money and emotions are often intertwined. The best financial decisions are made when thinking and feelings are separate. When you seek a loan, mortgage and or Visa credit card, judge on merit points and not on your feelings. Do not be pushed or cajoled by sales people who are ranked by the number of new accounts they open. Our Credit Union does not rank our reps on the number of new accounts they open. They are expected to provide friendly and professional assistance.

When you are shopping for loans, determine the rate of the specific loan product. Some banks offer 0 percent for the first six months. What then will that rate change to? Are there annual and hidden fees? What about late payments? Ask, what is your monthly payments and what will the loan ultimately cost me? Are you going to accept the rate sheet a sales person places before you? Be mindful about how you spend and save your money.

Established in 1968, we welcome those who live, work or worship in Port Washington, Manhasset, Roslyn, Great Neck and the employees of the Town of North Hempstead. We are an equal opportunity lender. We are your community credit union.

Alice Melzer, Director of Marketing
Port Washington Federal Credit Union

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