Everyone likes exclusivity - it's evident in the way consumers purchase goods, the abundance of available luxury merchandise and how creditors advertise. That may be due in part to the benefits that come with a particular group outweighing standing alone. The communal aspect of credit unions may be part of the allure.
Traditionally the advantages of a member-owned credit union were only extended to those who met specific guidelines; they centered in large part around geographical location or a designated employer. Some financial institutions are breaking the mold, doing away with the mutually exclusive nature of member-owned institutions and allowing anyone in the country to join their community.
According to U.S. News and World Report, there are at least 60 credit unions across the country that anyone can join.
Here are four credit unions that personal finance magazine Kiplinger recommends, to bridge the clout of exclusivity with the communal offerings of a credit union:
Donating for a good cause
In addition to common requirements like being involved with an affiliate group or working in the surrounding area, these credit unions give open accounts as a show of thanks for potential members' interest in a common cause.
- By donating $10 or more to Foster Care to Success, donors are granted membership into both the organization and Alliant Credit Union. Membership is also offered if potential members work in or around the Chicago area. Alliant matches any donations, as they go toward foster children who have aged out of the guardianship of the government.
- Though Pentagon Federal Credit Union sounds like membership may be limited to those with a military-related background, a membership with the National Military Family Association and Voices for America's Troops would also qualify. The dues or membership fee for either of these organizations secure an account with PenFed.
- At Connexus Credit Union, an account can be established with only $5. An equivalent donation to the nonprofit Connexus Association can also qualify members for an account they live outside of any of the qualifying Wisconsin counties. None of its three account types, Innovative, MyRewards and Xtraordinary checking, have minimum balances or monthly fees. Those residing in Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Minnesota are able to join.
- Education is the common thread that bonds the members of Consumers Credit Union. A $5 savings account balance and donation to the Consumers Cooperative Association is all that's required for membership. The association strives for financial wellness within its community and awards scholarships annually to graduating seniors of CCA members.
Some credit unions also make membership available with a flat membership fee.
The Federal Credit Union Act of 1934 mandated that credit unions have clearly set standards for inclusion, but broadening those standards could have a similar effect on a branch's member base.