You have so many different options for banking today. In addition to traditional banks, there are online-only banks. You can invest with robo-advisors and apps. If you need money, you can get a personal line of credit or set up a Go Fund Me account. With so many options available, it can be difficult figuring out what the best choice is at any given time. If you’re looking for a home mortgage, then you might want to consider going with a credit union. They’re almost always cheaper than a traditional bank for mortgage loans.
What is a Credit Union?
A credit union is a type of bank. However, a regular bank is owned by a company or corporation. For example, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are regular banks.
In contrast, a credit union is a co-op. When you join a credit union, you become a member who partially owns the credit union. Therefore, credit unions tend to work harder than traditional banks to secure the best options for their members. After all, the members themselves own the bank.
Credit unions historically served particular groups of people. For example, there are firefighter’s credit unions and teacher’s credit unions. However, today, you can find a credit union for just about anyone. For example, San Francisco Credit Union is open to any resident of the city.
You Get More and Pay Less at a Credit Union
A traditional bank is a for-profit company. In contrast, a credit union is non-profit. As a co-owner of the bank, the extra “profits” or benefits go back in your own pocket. Therefore, you get better rates and lower fees when you use a credit union instead of a traditional bank.
In terms of rates, you get more interest. For example, if you open a savings account at a bank and open another at a credit union, you’ll most likely discover that you earn more interest on the credit union savings account.
In terms of fees, you often find that you aren’t charged for things at a credit union that a typical bank would charge you for. ATM fees, overdraft fees, and similar charges are often not a problem at credit unions. Of course, each credit union is different, so you’ll always want to check the terms of your own account. Don’t assume anything. Generally speaking, though, you’ll pay less and earn more when banking with a credit union.
People Choose Credit Unions for Loans
Although there are benefits to opening a checking/savings account with a credit union, the real reason that people opt for credit unions is often because of the loans.
First of all, if you’re already a member of the credit union, then loan approval usually happens very quickly. You can apply to become a credit union member just to get a loan. However, you’ll have the best luck if you’re already a member. Therefore, if you know that you’ll need a loan in the near future, you might want to set up a checking and/or savings account with the credit union first.
More importantly, credit unions often offer the best rates for loans. If you were to apply for a loan through your regular bank and also apply for one through your credit union, chances are that the interest rate would be a lot lower on the latter than the former.
In other words, you can borrow money more easily from a credit union, and you won’t have to pay back as much in interest. Of course, your credit history will still play a role in the decision process for a loan. However, your credit union will also consider other factors, which your regular bank may not. They’re more people-friendly and consider different human circumstances. Therefore, if you have irregular or non-traditional income, a higher-than-average debt-to-income ratio, or some other credit history quirk that would cause another bank to turn you down, then you might have better luck with a mortgage company.
Get Your Mortgage Through a Credit Union
You can get any number of different types of loans through a credit union. However, it’s an especially good choice for people who need to get a mortgage. After all, a mortgage is probably the most significant loan you’re ever going to get. When you’re taking out that money, to be repaid over such a long period, it’s critical to get the best rate possible. You’ll find better rates at your credit union than through a regular bank.
The most important difference is the interest rate. When you’re taking out such a huge loan, even a small percentage difference can make a huge impact on how much you end up paying overall. But that’s not the only way you’ll benefit when you get your mortgage through a credit union. You might also find that your closing costs are significantly cheaper. When you work with a traditional bank (or a mortgage bank), you work within a system that’s designed to rack up the fees. When you get your mortgage through a credit union, you work within a system that’s designed to give you the best rates.
Plus, you get the personal touch that banks just don’t offer. When you buy a house, especially for the first time, it’s a really huge decision. It’s confusing. You will probably have a lot of questions. And while you can certainly get many questions answered by your real estate agent, it also helps to have your financial team on your side. Your credit union will go the extra mile to provide customer service that helps you understand each step of the process, what your options are, and how to make the best decisions as you buy your home. They’ll also help you with funding a non-traditional home that other banks might turn their noses up at.
A Mortgage is a Long-Term Relationship
No matter how long you have an account at a regular bank, it usually feels like an impersonal service. In contrast, you truly build a relationship with your credit union over time. This is particularly important as a homeowner. Inevitably, you’re going to need some additional financial help for your home. Perhaps ten years down the line you’ll need to replace the roof. Maybe you’ll grow your family and want to add on to the home. Or maybe you’ll just need money for something else, and you’ll want to refinance your home to get that cash. Whatever the reason, you’ll have a better chance of getting a great home-related loan if you’ve established a relationship with your credit union over the years. Getting your home mortgage with them and paying it off consistently is a great way to establish that relationship.
Plus, your credit union is likely to stick with you throughout the loan. Many traditional banks sell and re-sell their loans over time. As a result, you might start out sending payments to one company only to find a few years later that your checks need to go somewhere else. While that’s usually not a big deal, it can feel like a hassle when it happens. Things can go awry. Moreover, you can really start to feel like you don’t know who’s dealing with your money. You don’t have those issues when you work with a credit union, which is typically unlikely to sell your mortgage.