Credit unions strictly limit eligiblity
Unlike banks, credit unions serve a specific group or community, which means there are rules about who can join. In some cases, eligibility can be based on where you live, but oftentimes a credit union exists to serve a particular profession, college alumni or even a religious institution.
"For a lot of people, there's still a perception that they aren't eligible to join a credit union because they don't meet the criteria," Briotta says. "But that just isn't the case because there are so many credit unions. There are probably several that most of us are eligible to join."
Finding an eligible credit union isn't difficult. Briotta advises consumers who are interested in joining a credit union to visit CULookup.com. The site is free, and consumers can search for credit unions based on location, the name of the institution or a particular affiliation like a profession or employer. But consumers shouldn't limit their search to their own status.
"In a lot of cases, you may be eligible for a credit union because of a family member's status," Briotta says. "So it's important for consumers to understand that eligibility is a lot broader than they probably think."