As public disgust with the commercial banking industry continues to grow, many consumers who were simply content to grumble about the Federal tax dollars that are being committed to bailing out the banks for their bad decisions are now being driven to the unspeakable action of renouncing commercial banks altogether.
What is it that has driven these otherwise reasonable people to take such a drastic step?
In a word: Fees. In addition to increasing the fees which consumers pay for overdrawn checks and various other “services”, some banks have taken the additional step of charging fees for debit cards, checking accounts, ATMs, and a host of other services which many Americans have come to expect free of charge.
Such has been the public outcry at this unthinkable insult that even Congress couldn’t help but notice. Senator Dick Durbin, (D-Ill) had this to say: “Bank of America customers, vote with your feet, get the heck out of that bank, find yourself a bank or credit union that won’t gouge you for $5 a month and still will give you a debit card that you can use every single day. What Bank of America has done is an outrage.”
While it is a mystery why Durbin singled out Bank of America, as the fee cancer has spread throughout the commercial banking system, what is clear is that many Americans are already voting with their feet and are ditching fee mongering commercial banks in search of alternatives.
In Portland, the search will lead them to a number of local credit unions that offer superior service, unbeatable interest rates, and low or no fee alternatives to services provided by commercial banks.
How can credit unions afford to do this? The simple answer is that credit unions are banking coops. By definition and by statute, they are locally owned and operated. Credit unions are non-profit organizations whose only “shareholders” are its members. Therefore, credit unions exist exclusively for the benefit of its customers and the community which it serves.
To become a member of a credit union, one must be a member of a group that is served by a specific credit union’s charter. A person is typically eligible to become a member of a credit union based on where they live, work, or worship. In some cases, becoming a member can be as easy as simply applying for a loan at the credit union.
Once a person is deemed to be eligible for the credit union’s field of membership, all they would need to do to become a member is to complete an application and make a one-time deposit (typically $5) into their savings account. From there, the member is not only on their way to investing in their community, they are on their way to receiving better interest rates on both deposits and loans, superior customer service, and having the right to vote on important decisions affecting the credit union.
Few changes stand to make such a profound impact on both the individual and the community than the decision to bank at a local credit union instead of a commercial bank. The individual and their community are both empowered by this seemingly simple choice.
There are a number of great credit unions in the Portland area. A great place to start is by locating a credit union near you. Websites such as findacreditunion.com and creditunionaccess.com can help you to locate a credit union in your area.
If you need any additional encouragement or have doubts about leaving your bank behind, a peek at this brief article at moneyistheroot.com on the advantages of credit unions should quickly put those doubts to rest.
In Portland, it is easy to cast your vote against the commercial banking regime and put your money to work building our community. Start banking locally today at your local credit union.