Credit unions more likely to improve financial wellbeing, survey finds

A survey of US voters by the Credit Union National Association found that the sector returns billions of dollars to members and communities

Credit union members across the USA are more likely to say that credit unions improve their financial wellbeing compared to customers of other financial institutions, according to a new white paper from the Credit Union National Association (Cuna). 

“We have data that shows credit unions return billions of dollars to their members and their communities,” said Cuna’s chief economist Mike Shenk, “but it is especially meaningful to hear how members actually feel about the impact credit unions have on them personally.

“The findings also illustrate the stark difference between credit union members and non-members.”

The white paper, taken from a survey of 2,500 people, found that credit union members are more likely to say that their financial institution has a “very positive” impact on their financial wellbeing than bank-only customers (44% to 29%). 

Respondents were also more likely to associate their credit union with serving a socioeconomically diverse membership, granting easier access to low-cost loans, and having a more meaningful connection with their community. Bank-only customers were more likely to report that they don’t have US$500 in savings to cover an emergency, long a measure of financial wellbeing.

The white paper adds that credit union members are twice as likely to take advantage of financial counselling and education classes, engaging with their not-for-profit, member-owned credit union to build a more stable foundation for success. 

“It demonstrates that credit unions continue to do right by their members,” added Mr Shenk. “Modernising fields of membership would allow credit unions to do even more to continue to advance financial wellbeing.”

Findings from Cuna’s 2022 Voter Poll include:

  • Spending: 90% of all credit union members say their institution makes it easy for them to manage their finances. Credit union members are 1.2 times more to respond “very positively” to the idea that their financial institution makes it easy to manage their finances. 
  • Saving: Credit union members are half as likely as their non-member counterparts to say they don’t have ready access to $500 for an emergency expense. 
  • Borrowing: 86% of credit union members say that their institution makes it easy for them to get loans.
  • Planning: 86% of credit union members have access to financial education/literacy programs at their credit union, while 79% of members have access to formal financial counselling services at their credit union.
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