I have no idea what a credit union is…

A few months ago, I posted a survey on my personal Facebook page, asking, “If you use a bank instead of a credit union, can you tell me why?” It was asked simply, no persuasive narrative or follow up questions.  Not many of my friends know where I work or how I am involved in the credit union industry, and for good reason. I wanted to keep the feedback neutral and honest.

What do you think my responses were? These were minor acquaintances from school, good friends, friends of friends, relatives, siblings.  Millennials to Baby Boomers. Living all across the country, big cities, rural areas and in between.

Well…they told me that they don’t know anything about credit unions. One person’s response was blunt, and perhaps my favorite: “I don’t understand credit unions.” Another wrote earnestly, “I don’t really understand why someone would use a credit union instead of a bank.” Someone else chimed in, innocently but ludicrously, “I didn’t think credit unions had ATMs?”

I was surprised by the consensus. These people didn’t have a negative perception of credit unions, they simply were naïve. They flat out didn’t know.  It was like some sort of exotic urban legend that everyone has heard of but no one knows anything about. When I tell people that I work for credit unions, they respond with a slow arm wave, gesturing at some imaginary place, and say “oh yeah, I think my brother’s friend has a credit union account…” eventually trailing off. Sometimes they tell me that they have actually seen a credit union with their own eyes. “I think I saw a credit union at the corner of such and such.” I nod my head in approval. Yes, they do exist, and yes, you can join one.


continue reading »