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Avoid the Hassles and Bogus Charges - Find a Credit Union!

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  • Avoid the Hassles and Bogus Charges - Find a Credit Union!

    When I was in high school and got my first serious job, I opened a checking and a savings account at the same bank at which my parents kept their funds. I blindly trusted that they would take care of me and my money and treat me like a competent, capable, aware individual that would be watchful over my own finances.

    Sadly, my assumption was way off the mark. Once I went to college, I was even more careful about what was coming and going from my bank account, made easier by online banking. It wasn't long before I noticed that a ten dollar fee was being sucked from my checking funds every month.

    I called their customer support line to find that this charge was for "online bill pay." I didn't have any bills to pay, so this was obviously bogus! They removed the charge and refunded my money. But several months later, this fee reappeared. This cycle of banking costs and phone calls repeated too many times to count.

    Now that I trust my finances to a local credit union, I have been relieved to find absolutely zero miscellaneous charges--especially for services I don't even use!

    Credit unions have a rich history of support for individuals that have something in common which qualifies them for membership. The contemporary version of the credit union was established in the mid-nineteenth century in Germany.

    It was specifically designed to help agricultural and other rural workers get the banking services and credit they needed despite their seasonal cash flows, based on things like harvests, wool gathering, and livestock slaughtering.

    The same principle is still applied to credit unions: they offer exclusive membership to a certain group of people. That group can be defined by a variety of factors.

    How do you know if you qualify, then, or if you fit into a certain group? Well, one of the most common types of credit union is associated with an individual's occupation. For example, my mother works as a teacher's aide at an elementary school, so she has access to a credit union specific to Arizona's teachers and support staff.

    Other potential credit unions may be built upon members that live in a certain region. For example, the credit union my spouse and I belong to is for those who live and work within our county.

    But the downside of this is that when we travel, we have to make arrangements for withdrawals, checks, and the like before we leave. We have to deal with ATM fees or other charges when we need money when we don't have direct access to our credit union.

    It is my opinion, however, that avoiding the hassle of secret fees and going in circles with a bank that cannot be direct or honest any drawbacks are certainly worth it. It only requires some additional preparation.

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