ATLANTA (1/22/15)--Just like the rest of the country, it's hard to find a place in Georgia where credit unions don't beat banks in terms of the financial services they provide.
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For the year ending September 2014, Georgians saved more than $125.2 million by choosing credit unions over banks, thanks to lower interest rates on loans, higher returns on savings and fewer and lower fees, according numbers from the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) and the Credit Union National Association.
That breaks down to $63 of savings per member, or $119 per member household (assuming 1.9 members per household).
"It's true members definitely save money when they conduct their business with credit unions," said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. "But it goes deeper than that. A member at a credit union is an owner, and being an owner entitles a person to a level of helpfulness and respect that a customer at a for-profit company will have trouble finding."
In nearly every loan product offered by both credit unions and banks, credit unions offered lower interest rates, the numbers said.
And in every savings account type offered, credit unions came out on top, in some cases offering more than 100% more in interest than their banking counterparts.
For regular savings accounts with a $1,000 balance, for example, credit unions offered, on average, a 0.19% interest rate, compared with 0.08% from banks.
It appears Georgia consumers continue to take notice of the advantages of not-for-profit, cooperative financial organizations as well.
The data found that credit union memberships rose 2.8% in 2014 after a 2.3% increase the previous year, pushing total memberships above the 2 million mark.
Nationwide, credit union memberships topped the 100 million mark in 2014.
"Credit unions succeed when their members succeed," Mercer said. "So in addition to lower fees and better rates, credit union members are part of an organization that is wired up to help them succeed."