In many ways banks and credit unions are similar in the fact that they are financial institutions. You put money in, you get money out, get loans or CD’s, and always wish there was an extra zero at the end of your monthly statement. But the ways that they are different are much more important than the ways they are similar. At Lake Chem Community Federal Credit Union, our slogan is “like banking, only better”, and we like to think we are just that. Not all credit unions are created the same, but they all have the same structure for the most part, and that structure is what makes them different from your traditional bank.
1.You have a voice, plus, you’re encouraged to use it
In your typical bank, you probably couldn’t walk in and say, “I think you should raise the interest rates on your savings accounts.” and not get an answer similar to, “Well, we can’t do anything about that, so sorry!” At a credit union, you don’t get a magic wand where you can make the interest rate on your mortgage 0.5%, but you do get something that is almost just as powerful, a voice. When you are a member of a credit union you get an equal say on how the credit union is ran. At Lake Chem, we are member owned and member operated. Our board of directors is made up members that want to make a difference, voted on by other members. We don’t answer to shareholders in a city that’s hours away, we make decisions based on what is in the best interest of our members, and our members have transparency in that. In the spring, we have an annual meeting where we go over all of the decisions that have been made and the financial well-being of the credit union. All members are invited and all members have a say, regardless of how much money is in your account!
2. Credit Unions are kind of like the Robin Hoods of the financial industry
While we aren’t robbing the rich to feed the poor, we certainly aren’t hoarding piles of gold for our own personal gain. One of the major differences between credit unions and other financial institutions, is that they are not-for-profit. All money made by a credit union goes back to its members through low interest rates on loans and high dividends on share accounts- your checking and savings. We are created and structured by a “people helping people” philosophy, and because we are not-for-profit, we show that by giving back to our community and keeping your money where it belongs, with you. At Lake Chem, we don’t charge monthly fees and we don’t have monthly minimum balance requirements. We focus on the well-being of our members, in Kentucky, credit unions gave $78.5 million in benefits to their members. That’s a lot of money that could have been kept from Kentuckians by banks, but because of credit union’s structure, it all stays here.
3. You get all of the good, and none of the bad
It’s like eating at Chick-fil-a and saying God’s calories don’t count. Credit Unions offer many of the same services as banks, but we aren’t charging the extra fees that would cut into your pocket, so more waffle fries for you! We offer everything from checking and savings accounts, to IRA’s and CD’s, as well as auto, land, and home loans at Lake Chem. Plus, you get the benefit of lower rates on loans, higher interest on dividends on deposit accounts (your savings, CDs, IRAs, etc), and none of those pesky little fees that like to hang out at banks.
At this point you may be asking yourself, okay so where can I sign up? What makes credit unions different from each other is the ways you can become a member. Some credit unions were created to serve people that work at a specific place, like at a factory or school. Lake Chem was originally founded to serve the employees of the B.F. Goodrich plant located in Calvert City, Kentucky. In 2005 we became a community credit union, so we could serve anyone that lived within our charter. We can now serve anyone that lives, works, worships, or goes to school in Marshall and Calloway County. So if you go to college at Murray State or go to church in Benton, you can become a member! Each credit union can be different by what qualifies a person to be a member, but the “people helping people” philosophy creates an experience that all credit unions have.
Being a credit union is so much more than taking money in and lending money out. When you become a member, you are given more control over your money and empowerment through education. That’s the credit union difference, that’s “like banking, only better”.