New Report Shows Georgia Credit Union Membership Helps People Afford Life
The Georgia Membership Benefits Report for the third quarter of 2016 confirms that credit unions are the best financial service providers for Georgia consumers, offering better interest rates for deposits and loans as well as low service fees. According to the report, released by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, for the 12-month period ending September 2016, Georgia credit unions delivered an average direct financial benefit equivalent to $87 per member and $165 per member household.
The report arrives on the heels of encouraging economic news for Georgia. In January 2017, state economist Kenneth Heaghney announced that Georgia’s economy grew nearly 2.4 percent between November 2015 and November 2016, outperforming the national economy (1.7 percent growth) over the same period. Heaghney also predicted that the state’s economy would continue to expand in 2017.
Some Georgians remain skeptical, however. They see little economic progress in their own communities and have enduring memories of the financial crisis that shook the nation (and the world) in 2007. The resulting Great Recession severely shrank the economy in Georgia and the rest of the country. National unemployment rates rose from 4.7 percent in November 2007, peaking at 10 percent in October 2009. Georgia’s unemployment rate remained above 10 percent from May 2009 to September 2011. Between February 2008 and February 2010, Gross Domestic Product, a broad measure of a nation’s total economic activity, contracted by more than 5 percent. Today, many areas of the country have emerged from the hard times.
“No matter which direction economic indicators are pointing, credit unions play a vital role in Georgia’s economy,” said Mike Mercer, President and CEO of GCUA. “They spur economic growth and provide residents with essential financial services. For Georgians, these member-owned, community-based institutions offer a better alternative for consumers.”
Because credit unions are member-owned and not for profit, credit unions focus their efforts specifically on member needs, providing lower-cost financial services and trustworthy financial information. Unlike a bank, whose profits largely go to its shareholders, a credit union’s earnings are returned to its members. Credit union members enjoy free ATM services, better loan and interest rates, and lower service fees.
For example, the report shows the interest rate for a new car loan at a Georgia credit union averaged 2.40 percent, compared to 3.35 percent at a Georgia bank. Financing a new, $25,000 automobile for 60 months at a Georgia credit union would save members an average of $126 per year in interest expense, compared to a loan from a Georgia bank. That amounts to more than $600 in savings over the life of the loan.
The report notes that Georgia credit unions offer lower average interest rates for mortgages and for credit card balances, as well as higher interest rates for deposit accounts. They also charge lower fees than banks. For example, credit card late fees averaged nearly $20 less at Georgia credit unions, and their average mortgage closing fees were more than $200 lower than those charged by banks.
With more than 400 branches and total assets exceeding $2.1 billion, Georgia’s credit unions help more than 2.1 million Georgians afford life. To find your credit union, visit www.asmarterchoice.org.
About Georgia Credit Union Affiliates Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) provides services and support that help Georgia credit unions – with current memberships topping the 2.1 million mark – meet the financial service needs of the state’s credit union members. GCUA offers advocacy, educational, operational and marketing support for Georgia’s 114 credit unions, with combined total assets of more than $21.5 billion. More information can be found at http://www.asmarterchoice.org/ and on social media at https://www.facebook.com/creditYOUnion, https://twitter.com/HPALGa and https://twitter.com/Gcuagov.