Credit unions aren't sophisticated
Credit unions aren’t sophisticated, technologically savvy, current—enter a word that implies that a credit union just isn’t quite at the level of a bank, and we’ve probably heard it before. The fact is, credit unions are all those things and more—there’s just a simple lack of awareness in the market of all the products offered. For instance, we often hear people say, “I love [enter bank here] because I can deposit checks with my phone.” Great, we love the convenience of mobile deposits, too! That’s why we also offer that service, along with many other convenient services such as checking and savings accounts, online account access, automated bill payments, automated deposits, credit cards, home loans—the list goes on and on. Modern products and services aren’t exclusive to banks, and in terms of our offerings, credit unions are sophisticated.
I can't travel with my credit union
A lot of people assume they’re going to lose convenience if they go with (or switch to) a credit union. “How do I access my money when I’m in Chicago and there’s no Inspirus Credit Union around?” It’s a fair concern—we are a Washington-based credit union—but it’s unfounded. The mass majority of credit unions are part of the CO-OP Network, which is essentially exactly what it sounds like: a co-op for credit unions. Thanks to CO-OP, any credit union member can use any other credit union’s ATM inside the CO-OP Network surcharge-free, which makes credit unions one of the largest ATM networks in the country. With nearly 30,000 ATMs from coast to coast, that means we’re bigger and more convenient than Wells Fargo and Bank of America. And if you need to stop in to speak to someone in person, you can do so at one of the 5,000 shared branches—sounds pretty convenient to us!
And as for international travel? We’ll be honest: You can take out money anywhere there’s an ATM, but you will have to pay a small fee just like you’d pay if you were a Wells Fargo member withdrawing from a Chase ATM. If you’re currently with a bank and travel internationally, you probably know the stress of trying to find your ATM in a new city. You’ve likely gone with the convenience charge to get cash from whichever machine is closest, so depending on how disciplined (or determined) you are, it may be pretty comparable to the same fees you’d face with a big bank.
I have to be part of a segment
When credit unions first started, they were generally specific to select employee groups, like farmers, postal employees, or police officers. Inspirus was a credit union for teachers, which meant you had to be an employee of the school district to be with us. Another local credit union, BECU, was for Boeing employees. Some credit unions still function in this way, but now, many credit unions—including Inspirus—have what’s called a community charter, which means as long as you live, work, worship, or go to school in the community, you can join. At Inspirus, you no longer have to be a teacher to join—you just have to be a resident of Washington.
They don't offer rewards programs
False! Each credit union is different, but we offer the Visa Signature credit card. That fact alone is enough to debunk the myth, but we’ll tell you more. With the Visa Signature, there’s no annual fee and every purchase you make is qualified for 2% unlimited cash back. Translation? Free money—as long as you wield your card wisely. You can use your credit card for almost everything these days—even rent—and as long as you’re paying off your credit card every month, you’re basically getting a 2% discount on it all, which is something a debit card or cash can’t offer you. Plus, a rewards card also gains you access to all sorts of other perks, like exclusive events and travel deals. Score.
It's too hard to switch
There are tons of reasons to switch from a bank to a credit union—and taken together, the reasons are well worth the slight inconvenience of transferring your funds and taking care of any recurring payments. To be frank, the biggest barrier when it comes to switching financial institutions (whether you’re going from credit union to bank, bank to credit union, or even bank to bank), is just that: the bother of transferring funds, resetting electronic billing and regular payments, linking new cards to online accounts, etc. But if you can spare a few hours to tackle these things (you could even view this as an opportunity to take inventory of recurring payments and save some money), you’ve gotten over the hard part. Phew!
In terms of the actual act of switching, it’s not difficult. Apply to be a member online (it’ll take you 10 minutes), then, once you’re approved, simply fund your first account. You can do this by transferring from another account, stopping by a branch, depositing a check, or even by punching in your debit card number online. Then, let your old financial institution know that you’d like to close your account, and either have them cut you a physical check to deposit at your new financial institution, or do an electronic transfer through online banking. From there, you can add to your membership and expand your accounts just like you would anywhere else. Easy, right?