By: Deidre Hicks
Since 1948, the third Thursday of every October has been recognized as International Credit Union (ICU) Day®: a day to celebrate the unique benefits credit unions provide to their members. On October 18th, VyStar and credit unions everywhere will be celebrating ICU Day’s platinum anniversary, a chance to look back after 70 years and be thankful for the lives and communities that have been improved by the unique principles and actions of the credit union movement.
While credit union membership across the country is on the rise—up by 4.2% over the past year, according to the CUNA Mutual Group—there are still some lingering misconceptions about credit unions and what they offer. Have some reservations that might be holding you back from becoming a member? In honor of ICU day and its mission to spread the word about the credit union difference, we’re debunking some of the most common credit union myths—so you can start enjoying the benefits of membership today!
It’s long been thought that credit unions are open only to employees of a single employer or Select Employee Groups (SEGs). In fact, according to a survey conducted by The Financial Brand in 2017, 2 out of 5 non-members believe they can’t join a credit union.* Although some credit unions are limited to specific groups or industry employees, many credit unions have expanded their membership criteria.
VyStar Credit Union was founded as Jax Navy Federal Credit Union in 1952 to serve civil service and military employees, as well as their families at Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax). In early 2002, we received approval from the State of Florida to open membership to anyone living or working within the five-county area, including Duval, Clay, Nassau, St. Johns and Baker counties. Since then, VyStar membership has grown to include people living or working in 22 counties from Northeast to Central Florida. More than 630,000 people now enjoy the benefits of VyStar membership, and we continue to grow as we add more branch and ATM locations. (You can visit our interactive History Timeline to learn more about our growth over the decades.)
According to The Financial Brand Survey, 64% of people don’t know credit unions are nonprofit. What does nonprofit mean in the credit union world? It means that as member-owned institutions, income is put back into members’ wallets in the form of lower or no fees for services, lower loan rates and higher earning rates. It also means that many credit unions are very involved in community initiatives.
Since our official announcement this summer, we’ve lowered or eliminated over half of our fees, saving members more than $1 million annually, in addition to the millions we already save them every year. In 2017, VyStar and its employees also offered community support by donating more than $500,000.00 to charitable organizations from Northeast to Central Florida, such as the March of Dimes, the United Way of Northeast Florida, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® and more.
The same 2017 survey by The Financial Brand, more than 50% of respondents believed credit unions don’t provide mobile or Internet banking options, and 33% thought credit unions have fewer convenient branch and ATM locations. Most credit unions, however, have embraced online and mobile banking, and most offer convenient branch locations and free ATM access as well.
In addition to having 47 brick-and-mortar branches and more than 250 branch, standalone and Walgreens ATM locations throughout 22 counties from Northeast to Central Florida—as well as a network of 20,000+ surcharge-free ATMs at popular retailers across the nation—VyStar also offers Internet & Mobile Banking services, such as Bill Pay, mobile check deposit and more. Plus, our Call Center and online VyChat are available every day, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., excluding holidays. This way, VyStar members can conveniently access and manage their accounts—anywhere, anytime.
Think you’re ready to become a credit union member and see just how much VyStar can do for you? Visit us at any one of our convenient branch locations, call us at (904) 777-6000 or 1 (800) 445-6289, or apply online today!
Share with us below: What are some questions you have about credit unions that you’d like to know more about?
The information provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.