At RiverFall, we want you to understand the credit union difference.
Sure, most of us know that banks and credit unions offer many of the same products and services. But, there are many distinguishable and noteworthy differences that you should fully understand before you decide whether or not to open an account with a bank or become a member (and account holder) of a credit union.
Now, don't get all tied up in the word "MEMBER". When you join a credit union, no one is going to require that you attend some crazy meetings, or that you have to pay to be a member like you do with country clubs or hunting clubs. See, the fact is that by becoming a member, you get to enjoy the benefits of credit union membership like better rates on loans and lower fees for services without having to "do" anything. Credit unions simply have to limit their offerings to people who have a common bond. This bond may be the geographic community, a workplace, a religion, or other type of bond.
Let's look at the difference between credit unions and banks in terms of structure. Credit unions are not-for-profit, member-owned, financial service cooperatives. Wow - that's a mouthful. But simply put, that means that if you have an account with a credit union, you are an owner. A co-operative in this instance is a financial entity which belongs to its members, who are at the same time the owners and the customers of their financial institution. So, you might be wondering who's in charge? Well, a credit union has an elected Board of Directors as well as a Supervisory (or oversight) Committee. These unpaid volunteers meet regularly to ensure that decisions made by credit union management regarding policies, operations, and pricing are always in the best interest of the members. And for credit unions, after operating expenses as well as regulatory reserve requirements are met, the remaining funds are returned to the members in the form of dividends. Credit Unions are tax-exempt, which is a big part of the reason we can keep our loan rates low and our deposit rates high, as well as keep any fees for services at a minimum.
Banks, on the other hand, are for profit and are owned by corporate stock holders who are motivated by charging higher fees and higher interest on loans. The more money they charge, the more profit they make. And don't forget the executives making all of the decisions - more profit means higher salaries for them. Now, it's not all bad for banks. Credit unions may not offer the whole universe of products and services that larger banks will. So you may find yourself in need of their services. But these days, with mergers and acquisitions and bail outs, can you really be sure who you are doing business with?
Credit Unions, as an industry, have fared well through hard financial times and continue to be strong today. We believe that this is a direct result of the way we do business - using common sense to offer the best that we can to our members without ever gambling just to make a buck. Credit Unions are financially sound, federally insured, and uniquely owned and managed by their members - and here at RiverFall, we would love the opportunity to serve you.
Those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Pickens, or Tuscaloosa counties are eligible to enjoy all of the benefits of RiverFall. A $5 minimum balance in savings is required for membership.