At credit unions, every person counts and they want you to know it.
Yes, they do usually offer lower fees and better service than big banks. They also serve up some neglected goodies worth scooping up, including discounts on events and cash-back incentives.
How do they pull this off? By pooling buying power.
Since credit unions are not-for-profits owned by their members, they return savings to their membership. For example, auto loan rates are usually 2 percent lower than they are at banks, says Anne Legg, chair of the Credit Union National Association's Marketing and Business Development Council.
"We have everything that big banks have and more," says Todd Pietzsch, spokesman at BECU, a credit union based in Tukwila, Wash. "But a lot of people don't understand the benefits."
To be sure, credit unions come in all shapes and sizes. Some are community based; others cater to specialized groups like police officers or teachers. Many Fortune 500 companies and universities also are affiliated with credit unions. Perks can be equally generous at all of them, says Legg.
Here's a sampling of the perks being offered at credit unions near you.