How to Join a Credit Union

How to Join a Credit Union

To become a member of a credit union, you must research membership requirements, evaluate available options, and fund your account. Even the greatest credit unions frequently have membership requirements, so not everyone may join, in contrast to banks, which are accessible to the general public.

Learn how to join a credit union and how to assess if it would be a good fit for you.

What Is a Credit Union?

Credit unions are non-profit organizations that offer loan and savings services. Since credit union members control the organization, as opposed to banks, their primary goal is serving members’ interests rather than making a profit.

In order to reflect members’ financial stake in the credit union, share accounts are frequently used to refer to checking or savings accounts. Over 30,000 ATMs are available for usage by members of many credit unions across the US and Canada.

Numerous fundamental financial services are provided by credit unions, such as online banking, mobile apps, online bill payment, and in-person payments.

How to Join a Credit Union

The requirements of the credit union may determine how complicated or simple the joining process is. This is the basic procedure.

Step 1: Research Your Options : Decide what kind of credit union you want: one with competitive rates and online services, or one with branches close to your house for easy in-person services.

Then make your choices more limited. For an excellent place to start when evaluating credit union products, check out Investopedia’s list of the Best Credit Unions. For instance, you can gain from joining a credit union that is a part of the countrywide Co-op shared branch network, which consists of more than 5,400 credit unions, if you frequently travel and want to conduct business in person.

Step 2: Find Information on Membership Requirements : There are frequently restrictions on who is eligible to join or cast a vote for leadership in credit unions. There are variations in the requirements for joining each credit union. Visit the credit union’s website to learn more about membership requirements.

Next, find out if you can become a member of the credit union. The credit union will outline the conditions for membership, which may include standards like:

  • Work: As a teacher, a member of the armed forces, or a retired employee of a certain company
  • Relationship: belonging to a certain trade union, professional, civic, or fraternal organization, or church
  • Learning: Alumni or students of a certain college, university, or educational system
  • Family: having a relation to an active member
  • Region: A particular community or places in which one resides, works, or attends school

If you don’t meet their requirements, many credit unions provide an alternative method of membership. For instance, anyone who pays a nominal charge to join a certain charitable organization may be eligible to join a credit union. The nonprofit organization may receive a one-time membership fee from the credit union in the amount of $5 to $25, or you may be required to pay it yourself.

Step 3: Apply for Membership :

Frequently, you can apply in person, by mail, or online to become a member of a credit union. Ensure that you have your Social Security number, date of birth, residence, legal name, and other pertinent information readily available.

Usually, you’ll need to supply:

  • Either your taxpayer identification number or Social Security number
  • government-issued identification, like a passport or driver’s license
  • Evidence of residency, like an energy bill or rental agreement
  • How to finance your new account (details below)
  • Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. “Guideline for Registering a Credit Union or Bank Account,”
  • Additional qualifying records, like a pay stub or transcript from school

A soft credit check or an inquiry into your banking history through ChexSystems may be performed by the credit union when you apply to join; this will not have an impact on your credit score.

If you have a problematic past with money, find out ahead of time if the credit union provides “fresh start” or “second chance” accounts, which are intended to give you basic services without charging overdraft fees. After a trial time, you might be able to upgrade to a regular account, but they might charge additional service fees.

Step 4: Make a Deposit : After deciding the kind of account (savings, checking, or certificate of deposit [CD]) to open, put money into it. A minimum deposit of $5 to $25 is usually required for membership in a credit union in order to open a savings account or share account.

You can be required by a credit union to maintain a minimum amount in your savings account, such $10, $50, or $100. To qualify for a certain savings rate, you might need to maintain a minimum balance.