Credit Unions - Meeting Members' Needs

Tired of mega banks' fees, Credit Unions offer high service and low fees

In a state where one in three people are credit union members (North Carolina), it’s not hard to find one of these service-oriented financial institutions to join. Among the over 100 choices are examples that fit each of the four major ‘fields of membership’: employer, geographic location; family; and membership in a group. The Ft Bragg Credit union serves a wide-ranging group of military and civilian employees attached to this growing base.The RTP Credit Union (Research Triangle Park) opens its memberships to area companies and their employees by offering business accounts along with personal accounts and services. The largest credit union in the state is made up of current, retired, and former state employees and their families. Universities also have a presence in the not-for-profit financial arena – Duke University offers its 38,000 university and health center employees and alumni a credit union membership.

The Ft Bragg credit Union has five branch offices and over 120 employees serving the active and retired military, civilian contractors, and their families in around the base. Its 50,000 plus members take advantage of the usual credit union menu of services, with a special focus on the needs of the military community. One notable service is the utility deposit waiver, negotiated between the credit union, the base command, and the base housing office. Credit union members pay a flat fee of $15 to get a deposit waiver for any of the four participating electricity providers. The arrangement makes it easier to move into base housing for thousands of transient families, relieving them of a more expensive deposit as well the deposit refund when they move out.

RTP Federal Credit Union counts over 300 business partners in RTP and the Raleigh area, and is actively recruiting more. Its business orientation serves over 13,000 members, including a travel club from four locations. Notable is its strong support for business accounts, a hard-to-find service in many other credit unions. Business deposit accounts and lending are supplemented by merchant card services for credit and debit card transactions and Automated Clearing House (ACH) electronic transfers – services usually associated with fee-charging commercial banks. 

With over 59% of the total credit union assets in the state, the State Employees Credit Union counts one in every seven state residents a member. As in many credit unions, membership is passed down through families. It now has at least one branch office in each of the 100 counties, with a total of 238 offices. In 2004, the credit union established a foundation to address needs in the community unmet by other sources. Funding comes from member accounts - $1. per month per deposit account provides a $25 million source for community college and university scholarships, grants to state museums and the national guard, as well as an innovative teacher housing project. Housing in the popular tourist locations along the coast can be prohibitively expensive for teachers, creating high vacancy and turnover rates. The credit union bought land and built 12 unit apartment buildings specifically for teachers. Reasonable rents have given area teachers affordable and safe housing.

Duke University’s 38,000 current employees in the university and medical centers, plus retirees, university alumni and their immediate families can take advantage of a credit union membership. These demographics drive a specific focus on financial education, with links to information on college financing; debt and credit; money management; home buying; identity theft and phishing; and student loan repayment. Two branches staffed by 37 employees give the impression of a modest operation, yet it has assets of almost $100 million.

Ready to join a credit union? Go to, and click Find a Credit Union under Credit Union data. Or, browse the credit union directory, organized by state.


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