- You may become a Member! Anyone can walk into a bank and try to open an account. Credit unions are a bit more exclusive: To become a member of Riegelwood Federal Credit Union you may LIVE, WORK, WORSHIP, GO TO SCHOOL OR OWN A BUSINESS IN COLUMBUS COUNTY OR NORTHERN BRUNSWICK COUNTY! Once you are a member then all your family members may also become a member of our credit union family. How simple is that?! When you are a member of a credit union you are also an owner. You have to be a member to be a customer or an owner. While credit unions have expanded the basis for membership in recent years — opening their doors to anyone who lives in a certain city (RFCU; ALL OF COLUMBUS COUNTY AND NORTHERN BRUNSWICK COUNTY), for example — federal law still prohibits them from being open to the general public.
- You may become a part of a Cooperative! Credit unions are owned by their members. That means their members can have a say in how the organization is run, including who sits on the board of directors. Often, members can elect the directors, who are members themselves and typically serve on a volunteer basis. Banks, on the other hand, are generally overseen by paid board members who might or might not bank at that financial institution. Unless they’re also shareholders, customers at banks have no say over who serves on the board.
- RFCU is a NOT-FOR-PROFIT organization! Unlike banks, which aim to drive earnings and appease shareholders, anyrevenue earned by credit unions goes back to members. This can take several forms. Some distribute profits through dividends; others put it back into services and use it to restrain rates on loans and credit cards. As not-for-profit organization, lenders such as Riegelwood Federal Credit Union generally are exempt from state and federal income taxes. They do, however, pay other levies, such as payroll, sales and property taxes.
- Rate advantage! With lower tax obligations, credit unions generally are able to offer members comparatively higher yields on savings and lower rates on many types of loans and credit cards. Riegelwood now is offering a low as rate on their VISA Credit Card of 7.75% APR. Our new auto loan rates for the year 2016 were as low as 1.99% APR.
- Different regulators! At the federal level, credit unions are overseen by the NCUA. State-chartered credit unions are monitored by state agencies. The NCUA also operates an insurance fund for credit union members, offering similar coverage as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. provides to bank customers — backing up to $250,000 per account type and owner.
Perhaps the biggest difference between banks and credit unions, however, comes down to mission. Credit unions started as a way to make credit available and affordable to the communities they serve, and they continue this mission now, more than a century later. Credit Unions have a “People Helping People” philosophy!