Why I Went With A Credit Union Over A Bank

The following is a partnership with SELCO Community Credit Union on the benefits of credit unions, and why I went with a credit union over a bank. All opinions are 100% my own. There are many benefits of credit unions such as lower fees, lower loan rates, and more. Today, you’ll learn about why you…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: February 3, 2022

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

The following is a partnership with SELCO Community Credit Union on the benefits of credit unions, and why I went with a credit union over a bank. All opinions are 100% my own.

There are many benefits of credit unions such as lower fees, lower loan rates, and more. Today, you’ll learn about why you should join a credit union.benefits of credit unions

I’ve banked with a credit union my entire life. Starting at the age of around 14, I went to my local credit union with my parents and opened an account with them.

And, ever since then, I’ve used local credit unions for my day-to-day banking, as well as any loans that I’ve wanted.

Even as a full-time traveler, I still use credit unions, and have not had any issues with that. I am able to get my day-to-day banking, as well as non-routine transactions done all over the country with no issues.

Credit unions often provide the same or better products and services as the big banks, with the added benefit of being more flexible, more responsive, and more personal.

Credit unions are popular for many reasons, like having lower fees, lower rates, and more.

If you haven’t joined one yet, you will probably be quite interested in what you learn in today’s article. 

Here are the benefits of credit unions.


Joining a credit union is easy.

For example, becoming a SELCO Community Credit Union member takes only about 5 minutes, and you’re eligible simply by living or working in one of the 27 Oregon counties that SELCO serves, or if you’re an immediate family member of someone who does.

Which is to say, membership is pretty wide open, making joining a breeze.


Credit unions tend to have better rates and lower fees.

Whenever I hear that someone is shopping around for a better rate, I ALWAYS tell them to check out their local credit union.

Whether they’re looking for a mortgage, a higher return on a savings account, or a car loan, credit unions almost always beat the banks in terms of rates and fees.

For example, car loan interest rates tend to be the lowest at credit unions, and they may be even double at other banks or by going through a car dealership directly. This can be a difference of hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.

Even if you’re not a member yet, many times you can become a member with a car loan. In fact, this is how I became a member at one local credit union – they had the best interest rate for a loan, and I became a member and used them for years. 


Credit unions are convenient, even when traveling.

Speaking from plenty of experience, credit unions offer the huge convenience of being able to do nearly everything from your phone.

My credit union integrates seamlessly with all of the conveniences I have come to expect, like using Apple Pay to make quick purchases, sending money to people, or tracking my purchases with a digital budgeting tool.

And this is an especially big deal for someone who travels as much as I do. Whether I’m out of the state or out of the country, I can:

  • Deposit checks using my phone’s camera.
  • See all my accounts at a glance.
  • Track my spending and create savings targets.
  • Pay bills and friends.
  • Transfer money.
  • Get transaction alerts by email and text.
  • Even apply for a loan or open a new account.

Plus, many credit unions, like SELCO, are part of what’s called a shared branching network. This network of credit unions lets you visit other network credit unions around the country to complete financial transactions. So, if there is a task that you’d rather do in person, you’re covered.

As a full-time traveler, I use shared branching all the time to deposit checks, withdraw cash, get official checks, and more. I always know that there is a place that I can bank, pretty much no matter where I am. 


Credit union ATMs are everywhere.

I’ve heard people say that credit unions don’t give you many options when it comes to withdrawing cash. But as a credit union member, I have free access to my money at nearly 30,000 ATMs nationwide (and beyond).

This is possible because credit unions partner with each other to create what they call the CO-OP ATM Network. (Have you ever heard of banks partnering this way?)

To find free ATMs closest to you, simply use this ATM locator.


Credit unions have your back.

I’ve been a credit union member through some pretty big changes in my life. No matter where I found myself, I could count on my local credit union to help with coaching, tools, tips, and more.

There’s definitely something more personal about using a local credit union, and working with people who have been there throughout my adventures (read: ups and downs) makes it that much easier to start a conversation when my needs evolve yet again.

More than being able to access my accounts wherever, even more than the money saved, maybe the biggest benefit of a credit union in my eyes is this: I feel there’s someone who knows me and is really looking out for me when I need it. Really.

At the end of the day, only you can make the call about who to partner with on your financial journey. Different needs and situations will mean some institutions will be better fits than others.

But I hope my experience helps make your decision a little easier (and maybe puts some misconceptions to bed in the process).


SELCO Community Credit Union

If you live in Portland, Salem, Albany, Eugene, Bend, or Redmond, Oregon, I’d recommend giving SELCO Community Credit Union a look.

In addition to everything I shared above, SELCO offers no-fee checking, youth accounts, small business accounts, a team of specialists you can meet with over video, by phone, or in-person, expert advice on investing and insurance, and lots more.

And you can also do all of the above from your own home (or anywhere, for that matter) through online banking or SELCO’s free mobile app.

You can learn more about SELCO Community Credit Union by clicking here.

Do you use a credit union? What benefits of credit unions do you enjoy?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Hmm I’ve been banking with Chase and while they have some convenient features, your post has definitely gotten me wanting to look at Credit Unions as Chase has a lot of cash minimums for their accounts, have low interest rates, and their ATM network isn’t really that huge.

    I know there’s some banks like Ally or Charles Schwab that’ll waive ATM fees worldwide, but I don’t know what those banks are like as far as interest goes compared to credit unions. But will definitely do some research now!

    Thanks for putting this post together!

    1. I definitely recommend checking out a credit union. They are great and what I always use!

  2. Alan

    I completely agree with you on credit unions. They are definitely saviors.

  3. Nick Wilson

    It is very important to remember that the money on the loan will need to be returned. So, I totally agree that credit unions make life a lot easier.

  4. 100% with you on credit unions. Since they are member-owned, they are just so much more efficient and lean. The fees I’ve found are at cost-and since not many people use ATMs anymore, not having a national network isn’t much of an issue.

    My credit union even has a dividend they distribute back to members. Plus, with mobile deposit, you don’t really need to be close to a branch location now.

  5. Luke Smith

    It’s great that you pointed out how federal credit unions often provide the same or better products and services as the big banks. I heard about credit unions from a friend the other day and I am researching about it now. Credit unions seem pretty useful, so I could see why people would opt to join them.