Having a branch nearby is one of the most important criteria for many people when choosing a bank. A 2009 study by the Rand Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif., found that 59 percent of those surveyed ranked branch convenience as one of their primary reasons for why they'd chosen their financial institution.
That's traditionally been seen as a limitation for the many individual credit unions that don't have more than a few branches. But just as they do with ATMs, many credit unions have banded together to share branches, McBride says.
"Due to their cooperative nature, many have shared branching capabilities so that consumers can use a branch of another participating credit union for deposits and withdrawals, just as they would their own," he says.
One credit union branch network, Credit Union Service Centers Network, has more than 5,000 branches nationwide and even boasts a 24-hour customer service call center.