What is a credit union and why should I bank with one?

April 15, 2016 | Mission Fed

These are both good questions that come up when Mission Fed is at schools, businesses or community events—and we love answering them!

Credit unions are member-owned financial institutions that offer most of the same services as traditional banks, but with a not-for-profit structure that means we’re responsible only to our customers, whom we call members—as opposed to banks, who are responsible to both their stockholders and their customers. Profits that a credit union makes are reinvested back into the credit union as new services, service enhancements and new branches. All San Diegans are welcome to bank with us.

And while this is the direct answer to this blog’s title, there is so much more to a credit union than meets the eye.

Credit unions have a rich history that demonstrates how the concept of member-ownership for financial institutions originally began. The first credit union in North America was created in 1900 as a response to predatory lending practices. Members banded together in Quebec to form a financial cooperative that provided credit to each other at reasonable credit union rates, removing the need to turn to “loan sharks” that charged exorbitant interest. Credit unions have been thriving in North America ever since.

President Roosevelt passed the Credit Union Act in 1934 to establish federally chartered credit unions in every state. The federal government has signed several bills since to insure the accounts of credit union members for up to $250,000. Credit unions have successfully funded themselves as member cooperatives without government assistance.

Mission Fed’s history begins in 1961, when we were founded in San Diego. Mission Fed was initially created to serve members of the educational community in San Diego. While we have remained true to our core membership, we also recognized the value of serving others in the community, but then expanded our charter in 2003 to make our services available to anyone who lives, works or goes to school in San Diego County. Since then, we’ve become and maintain our presence as the largest locally owned financial institution exclusively serving San Diego County.

You may be asking yourself what member-ownership really means and what the benefits are. Because credit union members are owners, credit unions focus on customer service and doing what’s right for the membership. Traditional banks serve both their stockholders and their customers because they have a for-profit business model. Credit unions serve just our member-owners because we have a not-for-profit model, responding to members with lower interest rates on loans and credit cards and generally higher dividends on savings accounts. Our people helping people philosophy shapes our culture and is a key component of every decision we make, from enhancing services to choosing the location of a new branch. Also, credit unions give back to their community through partnerships with local educational and nonprofit organizations.

While you can access information about Mission Fed’s services at MissionFed.com or in our 30 branches throughout San Diego, you can also open a Checking or Savings Account or apply for Home Loans, Auto Loans or Credit Cards online and receive an answer soon after applying. For easy access, we also offer Online Banking and Mobile Banking, plus convenient and secure payment options with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Chip-Enhanced Credit Cards. And our members can access the more than 30,000 fee-free CO-OP ATMs nationwide.

As a credit union, we’re for the people, not for profit. Both our daily workplace interactions and community engagement demonstrate how we put that saying into action. In December 2015, Mission Fed received the BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, category 250-499 employees, from the Better Business Bureau of San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties. We support local nonprofit organizations in numerous ways, including our Mission for Nonprofits Program, in which we give new members $25 and donate $25 to the organization of their choice when they open a new account and meet certain requirements. We are also happy to support our Mission 2 $AVE Program, which helps local students open Savings Accounts to learn about money at an early age. We are also the naming sponsor of Mission Fed JA Finance Park, which helps high school students and other groups gain budgeting and financial skills that will help them reach their future goals. You may have heard about Mission Federal ArtWalk, a free arts festival with more than 350 booths, April 30 and May 1 from 11am-6pm in Little Italy. And every month, we’re supporting schools and local organizations at a wide variety of events.

Credit unions like Mission Fed are ethical, member-driven financial institutions that exist to provide financial services at good rates and to benefit their communities. Visit one of our branches today to learn more about what it’s like to be a part of a member-owned financial institution today!

The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. Mission Federal Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided. This article contains links for websites that Mission Fed does not control. Mission Fed is not responsible and does not assume liability for the operations, content, links, privacy or security policies of third party websites.

Mission Fed

Mission Fed

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