CU service, value noted in Consumer Reports buying guide

November 25, 2015

YONKERS, N.Y. (11/25/15)--Credit unions received among the highest marks for service that Consumer Reports has ever given to an industry in the magazine’s recent financial services series “Bank & Credit Union Buying Guide.”

The report drew from more than 74,000 bank and credit union ratings.

“Credit unions are among the highest-rated services we’ve ever evaluated, with 93% of their customers highly satisfied, on average, vs. 69% for the four biggest national banks,” said Jeff Blyskal of Consumer Reports. “That satisfaction is driven by good customer service, not surprising when you consider that credit unions are owned and managed by their members.”

Added Jim Nussle, CUNA president/CEO: “The report, which notes credit unions’ superior member service and lower costs to consumers, supports the value of member-owned, not-for-profit cooperatives as Americans’ best financial partners.”

In addition to finding that credit unions offer unparalleled service compared with banks and online lenders, the magazine also reported that credit unions provide the lowest costs on the financial services block.

The article shared that the typical credit union offers free checking regardless of account balances, higher interest rates on certificates of deposit and significantly lower rates for credit card and auto loans. Additionally, many credit union members have access to tens of thousands of fee-free ATMs thanks to the CO-OP Financial Services network and thousands of branches through shared-branching networks.

Also touched on was the important role community involvement plays in a credit union’s business model, while in the meantime big banks “romance well-to-do-customers.”

“Credit unions provide the best alternative for the ‘underbanked’ since our fees and account requirements are lower or less stringent,” Joe Fagenstrom, spokesperson for Star One CU, Sunnyvale, Calif., told the magazine.

Consumer Reports also posted individual scores for the highest-rated financial institutions in each category, and the “lowest-rated” credit union on the list received a higher score than the top-rated big bank.

The bottom line?

“By upgrading to a better financial institution that matches your needs, you could save hundreds of dollars per year in fees, earn higher interest rates, and pay lower loan rates, while getting better customer service,” the article said. “And you probably won’t need to give up all the convenience of using ATMs, banking online, and managing accounts from your smart phone because even small community banks and credit unions now make these services available.”