FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a credit union?
A. A credit union provides financial accounts and services that are similar to other types of financial institutions, but instead of being profit driven, they are not-for-profit financial cooperatives. Credit union earnings, after expenses, are returned to its members in the form of lower interest loans, higher yield savings and investment accounts, no or low fee money management services and outstanding personal service.
As a financial cooperative, Garden State FCU is owned by its members. Member deposit accounts form a money pool that enables the credit union to lend money and provide financial services to its members. After the credit union’s overhead and other expenses are paid, the income from loans is returned to members in the form of account services and higher dividends.
Q. What makes credit unions different from other financial institutions?
A. Credit unions are not-for-profit and democratically controlled by their members. There are no stockholders. Members elect a volunteer Board of Directors from its membership. The Board is responsible for setting credit union policy. Daily operations are handled by paid professionals, or in the case of a smaller credit union, by volunteers.
Credit unions do not make a profit. While a credit union needs income to provide member services and benefits, its primary purpose is to help its members create a more secure financial future.
Q. Who can join a credit union?
A. Not everyone can join a credit union. Credit unions serve a specific field of membership as defined by their federal or state charter. Anyone who falls within this common bond can join. A common bond is defined as the employees of a company, members of a civic or church group organization or residents of a community. Generally, persons within a member’s immediate family, by blood or marriage, may also become members.
If you work at one of our select employer groups or organizations you are eligible for Garden State FCU membership. Once you join, your immediate family can also become members.
Q. Who governs a credit union?
A. A credit union receives its authority to operate by obtaining a federal or state charter. Annual examinations and oversight are conducted by the supervisory agencies ‒ the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for federal credit unions. Garden State is also governed by its member-elected, volunteer Board of Directors.
Q. Are my savings insured?
A. Member deposit accounts are federally insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which is administered by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). This fund is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. No taxpayer funds are used to support the NCUA or the credit union insurance fund. There are also steps you can take to have higher insured balances. Contact the credit union for the details.
Q. I don’t have a great credit rating and can’t get a traditional bank account, will I be able to open an account?
A. We provide savings and checking accounts for people who have faced financial challenges in the past and need a fresh start. We also offer lending products for people with less than great credit. Ask for the details.
Q. Do all members save money by using a credit union?
A. Studies show the average member saves between $150 and $300 a year by conducting most of their financial business with a credit union instead of a bank. The more products and services you use, the more you’ll save.