Have you ever had to pay a fee to get your own money from an ATM? If so, you’re not alone. Nor are you in the minority if your bank has ever socked you with an unexpected overdraft fee. In fact, according to CNNMoney, in 2016, America’s three biggest banks alone raked in more than $6.4 billion dollars in these fees from their customers. Despite public outcry, there’s little anyone can do about it, either—except take their business to a more caring financial institution like Alliant Credit Union.
RewardExpert recently spoke to Dana Vas Nunes, senior manager of deposit products at Alliant, about the many ways in which the institution differs from big banks and even other credit unions.
Helping Members Improve Their Financial Position
“Our mission is really to help our members improve their financial position in life,” Vas Nunes explained. Not only does the credit union forgo monthly maintenance fees on deposit accounts, but its insufficient funds fee is much lower than most banks or other credit unions.
“We recently wiped out overdraft transfer fees,” Vas Nunes added. “Where others are trying to add fees, we’re trying to reduce them for our members. That goes right to the core of our mission. I’m constantly solicited by vendors who want to sell me programs to increase our overdraft income. I keep telling them that isn’t what we are about.”
Additionally, Alliant Credit Union offers its members the best interest rates possible whether they are saving or borrowing.
“Because we’re a credit union, we are a nonprofit,” Vas Nunes said. “Any revenue we make over expenses is plowed back into the credit union and passed on to our members in the form of much higher savings interest rates and much lower lending interest rates.”
This is possible, in part, because Alliant keeps its expenses low by operating primarily as a digital financial institution.
“Most other credit unions follow the bank model where they have branches throughout their geographic area,” Vas Nunes said. “We’ve always essentially been a digital credit union. You can’t make a cash deposit or withdraw cash at a branch. Instead, you do that through an ATM, which allows us to offer much higher savings interest rates than most other credit unions.”
Bank Online, Through the Mobile App or at an ATM
The lack of physical branches (except for those that still serve United Airlines employees, Alliant’s original members, behind TSA airport security lines) doesn’t make banking with the credit union any less convenient for members, however.
“We work with five or six different ATM network providers throughout the country,” Vas Nunes noted. “That means our members can go to 80,000 different ATMs to make deposits or obtain cash.”
Should a member with a checking account choose an ATM that requires a fee, Alliant Credit Union will reimburse them up to $20 a month.
“They can go to any ATM and withdraw or transfer money anywhere they go—including oversees—and that $20 rebate will cover the fees,” said Vas Nunes. “This is a bigger rebate than you’ll find anywhere else. And unlike other banks that offer rebates monthly or quarterly, we deposit it into our member’s account the night the transaction comes through.”
A Full-Service Financial Institution
The variety of products and services Alliant Credit Union provides is as good—or better—than consumers will find at any other physical or digital financial institution.
“Unlike other online banks, we look at ourselves as a full-service financial institution,” Vas Nunes explained. In addition to free high-rate checking and savings accounts, Alliant offers its members saving accounts for kids, checking accounts for teens, and supplemental savings accounts.
“The free high rate savings account is our most popular product,” Vas Nunes said. “We’ve been growing our checking account business substantially over the last three years, and our accounts have won many accolades and awards.”
“Supplemental savings accounts are another product a lot of our members take advantage of,” she continued. “You can create up to 19 different savings accounts and use them as a digital version of envelop budgeting or having different piggy banks. And as long as each account has $100 in it, it will earn our high rate of interest.”
If you’d like to learn more about joining one of the largest credit unions in the U.S. with more than 335,000 members nationwide and over $9.3 billion in assets, visit www.alliantcreditunion.org.