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Credit Union Better Choice Saves Consumers More Than $18 Million

HARRISBURG — Since launching in 2006, more than 53,000 Credit Union Better Choice loans have been issued to credit union members for short-term cash needs. Through the 79 participating credit unions across the Commonwealth, 53,714 loans were issued totaling nearly $26 million dollars since the program’s inception. More importantly, the program has saved borrowers more than $18 million over using a traditional payday lending product.

The Credit Union Better Choice loan is a payday lending alternative product where credit unions offer borrowers a 90-day loan with a $500 limit. Reasons cited for loan purpose have included Christmas gifts, taxes, school clothes, and funeral expenses. The Credit Union Better Choice was developed through a collaboration of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, Pennsylvania Treasury Department, and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking.

Since the program’s inception, 79 credit unions with 224 locations have agreed to offer Credit Union Better Choice loans, with additional participants continuing to sign on. During 2011, 10,829 loans totaling $5.23 million dollars were issued. In the second six-month cycle (July 1 – December 31) of 2011, 5,098 loans totaling $2.3 million dollars were issued. Further, borrowers were also able to place more than $230,000 into savings accounts during the six-month period. The Credit Union Better Choice program is offered through participating credit unions and is a partnership of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury.  To learn more about the program and a view a list of participants, visit

“The continued growth of the Credit Union Better Choice program indicates that consumers need access to short-term loans,” says Jim McCormack, President/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. “Through a voluntary program, credit unions across the Commonwealth are meeting the needs of their members.”

McCormack added, “Every Pennsylvanian should be afforded access to loans at reasonable fees and rates. I encourage Pennsylvanians who are not using a credit union for their financial services to seek one – there is a credit union for everyone. Find one at”

A typical $500 payday loan costs consumers $15 for every $100 borrowed for two weeks, or approximately $450 over 90 days. A $500 Credit Union Better Choice loan costs consumers approximately $42.50 for the same 90 days and at the end of the loan term, the consumer has $50 in a savings account, which allows them to develop a savings habit.  In addition, the program builds upon this new wealth-building component by providing financial education to consumers in an effort to help them make better informed financial decisions.

Pennsylvania consumers saved an average of 80 cents in loan fees and costs for every dollar borrowed through a Credit Union Better Choice loan rather than through a typical loan from a payday lender. This translates into more than $18 million that consumers kept in their own pockets by using credit unions that offer Credit Union Better Choice loans.

Total Number of Loans Issued

Total $ Amount of Loans Issued

Total $ Amount of Consumer Savings vs. Payday Lender

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Credit unions are financial cooperatives that provide affordable financial services to help their owner/members. The Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Credit Union Association is a trade association that provides legislative, promotional, educational and operational support for more than 400 credit unions in Pennsylvania. These credit unions have assets in excess of $35 billion and serve more than 3.6 million members. For additional information about credit unions or to find a credit union near you, visit

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