In the last month there has been a movement to encourage people to move their money away from the giant banks to their local community banks and credit unions. The home website of this movement is at MoveYourMoney.info (now at Facebook.com/MoveYourMoney/) where they described their goal:
People all over the country are choosing to move their money out of "too big to fail" banks and into smaller, community-oriented financial institutions that generally avoided the reckless investments and schemes that helped cause the financial crisis.
It's a grassroots effort that has the potential to shift power in the financial system away from Wall Street and back to Main Street.
I've also seen others like Jim at Bargaineering write about how they are wanting to support their local credit unions. So I thought I would provide some resources that can help you switch to a local credit union. In addition, I'll show how credit unions can provide many of the conveniences that you may think only giant banks could provide.
My focus in this post will be on credit unions rather than community banks. For the rate chasers out there, you are probably already aware of the many advantages of credit unions. The best rates and deals are often at credit unions, and that's why we include credit unions at EpBooks.
Finding a Local Credit Union
A new resource that I've come across is at Findacreditunion.com which will locate nearby credit unions on Google Maps. In the past I've used this CU Locator tool that's provided by the Credit Union National Association. For both of these resources, you just enter your zip code and all of the nearby credit unions will be shown. Some locators will only show credit unions with headquarters in your city. Both of these will also show credit unions which have branches in your area even if the credit unions are based in another city or state.
Many credit unions started with field of memberships tied to specific companies. Credit union branches were often built near the major facilities of those companies, and this resulted in credit unions having branches scattered across the country. Many of these credit unions have expanded their field of memberships to include those who live or work near their branches. Thus, you can't just go by the headquarters of the credit union.
One reason people justify staying with their large banks is their wide network of ATMs. One might think that this would be a major downside with going with a small credit union. However, many credit unions have a good solution to this problem. They have partnerships with ATM networks such as the CO-OP Network and Credit Union Service Centers Network. These give you surcharge-free access to thousands of ATMs throughout the US and Canada.
This is another area that it would seem large banks would have an advantage. Just like with ATM networks, many credit unions have joined shared branch networks. CU Service Centers have thousands of credit union branches in their network throughout the US. At a shared branch you can perform many banking transactions just as if you were at your home credit union such as making deposits, withdrawals and loan payments.