6.2M across the Carolinas share $467M in credit union benefits

March 4, 2022

Credit unions across the Carolinas provide citizens the best value for personal financial services according to CUNA economics and statistics, delivering an estimated $467.2 million in benefits among 6.2 million members in the Carolinas during the twelve months ending September 2021. The figure equates to an average direct benefit of $75 per member and approximately $156 per member household.

Details of the North Carolina Membership Benefits Report for Third Quarter 2021 and South Carolina Membership Benefits Report for Third Quarter 2021 include credit unions’ lower average interest rates on new and used car loans, unsecured loans, and credit card balances, higher savings yields on deposit accounts, and lower fees than banks.

Among the not-for-profit cooperatives, a 60-month new auto car loan rate averaged 3.04% at a NC credit union, compared to 4.48% at a NC bank. The average rate for a similar loan at a SC credit union was 2.75%, compared to 4.07% at a SC bank.

Those terms mean a borrower would save about $185 in interest annually when financing a $25,000 new vehicle through a credit union—or up to $975 over the life of the loan.

Average mortgage closing costs in both states were $210 less through credit unions than through banks, and credit card late fees averaged nearly $10 less at credit unions.

"Consumers are ready to move ahead, weighing opportunities to build for the future or reduce the cost of home and auto purchases," Carolinas Credit Union League President and CEO Dan Schline stated. “By providing value in essential financial services, credit unions help people keep more for their own best interests, including support for other local businesses or charities. Member-owned, community-based institutions are a smart choice for all in the Carolinas."

Specific member benefits vary by institution and member, particularly for those with long-term, multiple-service relationships. SAFE Federal Credit Union (Sumter, SC) announced on January 5 an additional $1.5 million among members through 8% bonuses on deposit accounts and 3% rebates on loan interest paid in 2021. On Monday, Coastal Credit Union (Raleigh, NC) issued more than $4.1 million in special dividends, bringing its 2021 return to members to $41.6 million total and an average $139 per member.

“A great part of being a locally-based cooperative is, at the end of the year, we don’t pay dividends to Wall Street investors,” Coastal President and CEO Chuck Purvis reflected in the credit union’s announcement. “Instead, that money stays here in our community, and we reward the members who choose to do business with us every day.”

The positive results followed 70-year-high year-over-year increases in real per capita personal income in Q1 2021: 14.3% in NC according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond February 2022 Snapshot (NC), and 13.9% for South Carolinians, according to FRB-Richmond February 2022 Snapshot (SC).