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Saving via nonprofit banking

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Posted: 11 am ET

If you're deciding between between banks and credit unions for your money management, here's a stat from Wisconsin that may sway your decision to the nonprofit side: The average household saves $164 annually by using a credit union.

In a report titled "REAL Solutions Scorecard for Wisconsin Credit Unions," the Wisconsin Credit Union League analyzed how much the state's members actually saved by choosing credit unions for their personal finance needs. Here's a look at some of the numbers based on statistics gathered from 2.2 million consumers.

  • $128 million saved on loan products.
  • $36.5 million fewer bank fees.
  • $36.6 million worth of earnings on savings products.

It's no secret that not-for-profit institutions offer lower fees and lower lending rates, but looking at the difference on a statewide basis certainly puts that difference in a new perspective. As banks continue to charge more for checking accounts and other services, account holders are searching for ways to avoid seeing extra fees on their monthly statements.

Still, even with opportunities to save, I don't expect any report to encourage a massive consumer migration toward credit unions. Many consumers simply rely on the convenience of a massive banking network. While credit unions have banded together to keep up with big banks and offer shared branch networks and surcharge-free ATM networks, I don't know if account holders are entirely aware of how these offerings work. I see plenty of advertisements from the biggest banks in the country, but I don't know if I've ever seen a commercial promoting the benefits of being able to walk into a credit union anywhere in the country to manage your money. With Bank Transfer Day fresh in everyone's minds, now is the perfect time for credit unions to invest in educating potential new members about all of the benefits of non-profit banking.

What do you think? Are you familiar with how the shared branch and ATM Co-Op networks function? Are any of the numbers from this report compelling enough for you to switch to a credit union?

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