Today is Move Your Money day, where the Occupy folks and lots of others are encouraging everyone to close your big-bank account and move your money to places like a credit union.
I wanted to do this. But I found you can't just walk into a credit union and open an account. You have to be a member of one of the groups which that particular credit union is chartered to serve. Sometimes finding a credit union that will let you open an account isn't so easy.
Until now. I found a way that lets anyone qualify for a credit union account. It's fast and free, in fact it even bypasses the usual credit union signup fees. Follow me below the squiggle.
Here's what I found out. Ever hear of the American Consumer Council? I hadn't either. But if you go to their website and click on Membership, you'll find something interesting. They've set up some kind of cooperative deal with a bunch of credit unions all across the country. The upshot is if you join ACC you can qualify for any of the sponsoring credit unions (and there are quite a few).
Even better, membership in the ACC is usually $12 but if you sign up and say that you are also opening an account at one of those credit unions, the ACC membership is free. Plus, the usual credit union signup fee is waived too. This is usually less than $10, not much. But $0 is better than $10.
The way you do this is you go to the ACC membership signup page and sign up using the form at the bottom of the page. Within an hour they get back to you with your membership number. Then take that membership number to one of those credit unions and open an account. Your ACC membership is all you need to qualify you to open an account there. It's free, and as I mentioned, even the usual credit union new-account fees are waived.
I have no idea who set this up, or how it came to be, but it looks like a great way so anyone can Move Your Money. That's what I did so I could qualify to open a credit union account, so I wanted to pass it on.
1) get a free ACC membership
2) open an account at one of the credit unions listed there
3) Move Your Money!
And as if that's not enough to get you to Move Your Money, when I did this I found out another interesting thing about credit unions. You know how the big banks say, oh you don't want to be in a credit union, they don't have any branches? Technically true, but in practical terms this is a non-issue, because most credit unions belong to the Credit Union Service Center program, and you can use any of their over 6700 credit union offices as if they were your own credit union. Deposits, withdrawals, payments, almost anything you'd want to do at your local credit union office can be done from the "other" credit union office. They call it Shared Branching. From the CUSC webpage:
By using the CU Service Centers Network, your membership and accounts remain at your own credit union, but you can access your accounts and conduct business with your credit union through any of the convenient CU Services Centers ® locations. In this way, through a network of participating credit unions and retailers, access to your accounts and credit union services is made more convenient.
I can't think of many banks with 6700 branches!