Interested in having a positive impact on your local area? Ever consider that credit unions are built to do exactly that? Del Norte Credit Union points out that there’s a significant difference between banks and credit unions. First off, credit unions operate as not-for-profit entities that are member-owned and supervised by a volunteer Board of Directors. There are no external shareholders, which makes community success a central concern. When you join a credit union, you’re seen as a member rather than just a customer.
The Role of Credit Unions
“We work in a way that allows our members to benefit because we give back to our communities,” states Lisa Romero, Del Norte Credit Union’s Digital Marketing Specialist. “We are very involved in the communities. We offer many workshops and educational services to our members, such as financial literacy. Our interest rates are usually lower so that we can lend out more money because we know that by making it easier for our communities to purchase homes, get a credit card, or get a personal loan, they will, in turn give back to the communities themselves, by living here and helping to make the communities brighter.”
This isn’t just specific to Del Norte Credit Union; it’s a common ethos among credit unions everywhere. “Even though some might say we are in competition with other credit unions, we work with them because we know that credit unions are here to help the communities,” Lisa says. “It’s not really a competition. If a member is going to a credit union instead of a bank, that’s all we really want.”
Case in point: After last year’s devastating wildfires in Northern New Mexico Del Norte Credit Union prioritized aiding those impacted by the fires, offering them personal loans and expanding personal credit lines at minimal or zero interest rates. The focus was squarely on meeting the community’s urgent needs.
At Del Norte Credit Unions, we strive to make a positive change in our communities every day.
A Better Way to Bank
A big difference between credit unions and conventional banks, aside from their community orientation, is the fee structure. A typical bank might charge a monthly fee of $12 or more to maintain a checking account, which could amount to $144 annually. In contrast, many credit unions don’t charge regular monthly checking account fees.
Still unconvinced about the advantages of credit unions? They generally offer lower interest rates on credit cards, personal loans, and home mortgages. Del Norte Credit Union is affiliated with the largest network of surcharge-free ATMs in the U.S. via CU Anytime and Co-op. And yes, like banks, credit unions provide investment services. However, their typically lower rates mean members retain more of their money.
“Everything that we do, we’re doing because we want to better our community,” Lisa says. “We’re not doing it because we want to make money, because we don’t have shareholders that we have to pay. We’re not trying to make a profit. It’s so funny to say it out loud because most people think we’re just blowing hot air, but no, every employee that works here truly believe in our mission of improving lives . Our customer service is rated very highly. The people who work here are hired for that reason. We want them to be helpful, warm, present, and always do the right thing for the member. You are not just another number at a credit union but a member/owner.”
Credit unions like Del Norte also contribute to improving your credit score. A significant focus is placed on financial literacy, equipping members with the resources they need to enhance their credit ratings. Inside their digital banking platform is a feature called More Than a Score, which lets you view your credit score for free. This tool not only displays your score but also provides critical insights. For example, late payments can influence 40% of your score. Additionally, More Than a Score includes simulations to demonstrate the potential effects of early debt repayment or expanding your credit line.
“Most people don’t know about their credit score, but if you give them the tools they need, they will find their way,” Lisa says. “Financial literacy is the first way to do that. We really try to educate our members.”
Del Norte Credit Union takes its community engagement very seriously. It’s not just about lending credit and safeguarding your funds; there’s also a strong emphasis on outreach.
“We go to local events and try to educate people about how we are trying to save them money,” Lisa says. “Most consumers don’t really shop around for banks. They feel that one is just as good as the other. They don’t realize the huge differences between banks and credit unions. It’s all very transparent. We’re not trying to make money off our members. We don’t view them as a commodity. We view them as people. That’s why they are member/owners and not just customers.”
For more information on Del Norte Credit Union and the services they offer, their website is a good place to start.