For many people seeking a savings and checking account or hoping to secure a loan, a bank is their first stop. But an increasingly popular banking choice is a credit union, a nonprofit financial institution owned and controlled by the people who use its services. According to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the credit union system’s net worth increased in 2022 by more than $21 billion (or about 10%) to about $233 billion.
The rising appeal of the credit union makes sense. People who bank with a credit union (which is insured by the NCUA) are more than “customers”—they’re known as “members” or “owners,” and they all tend to share a commonality. Depending on the credit union, members may be part of the same group of employers, affiliated with the same organizations or live in the same geographic region. And as nonprofits, credit unions return the money they make to its members by offering reduced fees, higher savings rates and lower loan rates, says the NCUA. In other words, credit union members invest in each other.
“When I started frequenting a local credit union for my personal banking needs, I discovered a whole new side to the banking experience,” says Branson Knowles, head of U.S. digital banking at TopMobileBanks, a platform offering information about digital banking. “It comes down to a blend of personalized service, local community investment and good old-fashioned human connection.”
For example, says Knowles, the tellers at his credit union know his name, remember his favorite cinnamon swirls at the bakery next door and treat him as more than “just another account number.” He also appreciates that his credit union gives to the local community. “They sponsor school events, provide loans to budding local entrepreneurs and offer financial literacy programs for the underprivileged,” he says. “In essence, they use the money we deposited to make a real difference right where we live.”
If you like the sound of a community-minded banking experience, check out our sixth annual ranking of the Best Credit Unions In Each State 2023. To create the list, Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista and surveyed approximately 31,000 U.S. residents. Participants were asked to name all the banks and credit unions where they have a checking or savings account and evaluate these institutions based on criteria such as customer service, the quality of the financial advice representatives offer, whether fees are transparent and reasonable, ease of navigating the company website, on-location branch services and the overall level of trust the companies inspired.
Large nationwide banks and credit unions with branches in more than 15 U.S. states—like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Navy Federal Credit Union—were excluded so that the lists reflect the best of the smaller, regional institutions.
Online reviews and ratings posted on Google Reviews between March 2020 and April 2023 were also evaluated for each bank and credit union. These reviews and ratings accounted for 20% of the scoring, while the surveys accounted for 80%.
All told, 157 awards were given to 147 unique credit unions across all U.S. states
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