If you live in the state of North Carolina, then, there is an excellent chance that there is a State Employees Credit Union branch near you, and there is an even higher chance that you are a member of this credit union.
SECU, as it’s commonly known, has more than 260 branches and over 1100 network ATMs for its members, which makes it one of the largest credit unions in the US. It, however, doesn’t have any presence outside of North Carolina.
To become eligible for membership, you must be a public employee of the state of NC or be related to one.
The Union offers a wide variety of services to its members, and it is one of the most tech-savvy credit unions you shall find. Almost all of its services can be performed either on a smartphone or online using their website and various apps that they offer.
It is also a one-stop-shop for its members because you shall find anything you want at their branches, from accounts to loans and even scholarships for needy students. In addition, this is a credit union that is extremely concerned about its members, and they are always ready to help out whenever possible.
Here’s why SECU is considered one of the best in the industry
Benefits of State Employees Credit union
SECU is committed to providing you with a convenient and safe environment for you to save money, and the most economical way to borrow. Here are some benefits of becoming a State Employees Credit Union member;
Zero Fees on their checking accounts
When you open a checking account at State Employees Credit Union and sign up for the electronic services such as online statements and direct deposits, they will waive the monthly charges on the account, which means that you shall be able to operate the account free of charge.
Most Credit Unions tend to suffer in this area of technology. They are unable to cater to the rising demands of technological needs, and hence cannot be able to compete on the same level as banks.
They normally have fewer ATMs, no online or mobile banking, among other challenges.
This is, however, not true with the State Employees Credit Union. At SECU, you shall get to enjoy all the benefits of a bank in the credit union by having access to mobile banking apps which you can download on your smartphones, online banking, online bill payment, with the ability to pay people online, among others.
This is quite an advancement in technology, and most people can appreciate it when it comes to State Employees Credit Union.
Very many ATMs all over the state
When you join a credit union, it always worries you whether you shall be able to find an ATM whenever you need one. State Employees Credit Union gives you access to more ATMs than banks if you can believe it. They have access to thousands of free ATMs that you can use, such as Costco, Target, and the 7-Eleven stores.
When searching for an ATM, look for the CO-OP sign. There almost 30,000 of them. These ATMs are virtually anywhere and just about the corner, so you shouldn’t be worried about it.
Low interest rates
Studies consistently show that Credit Unions offer lower interest rates compared to banks, and this is true. With State Employees Credit Union, you shall get to experience the lowest interest rates on loans, as well as free operation on accounts, plus if you want to save some money, they shall offer you the highest interest rates so you can be able to establish a saving culture.
Excellent customer services
It has been said time and again that Credit Unions offer the best customer service. I have already mentioned this before, and the main reason why you get to enjoy excellent services is that; If you compare credit unions to banks, with a credit union, you get to become a part-owner of the business, and as such, you shall be regarded very highly, and every time you visit one of their branches, you will always receive a VIP treatment.
Good credit opportunities:
SECU offers young members an excellent opportunity to establish their credit ratings. This is because, with their wide variety of loan options, such as mortgages, personal loans, lines of credit, etc., members have a convenient way to borrow loans at lower rates. The terms are also competitive and low.
Financial wellness Resource center
They have numerous financial education tools which include online learning resources and financial counseling plus fraud protection and account security. This enables you to become well informed when it comes to your finances, and you are able always to make informed decisions concerning your money.
A saving environment
One of their main goals is to help members meet their financial goals, and handle money wisely, by fostering a saving mentality among the members. This is usually through their excellent savings accounts that have a high-interest rate and the many other products that are as a result of saving.
This is an area that most members tend to appreciate because SECU makes them responsible to the community they live in.
The Credit union loves being part of the community, and they like to help when and where they can. They normally realize this through financial education of the community and conducting various social activities that help the society.
Here is how they achieve this goal
Through food donations – Each year, their employees normally collect and donate hundreds of pounds of canned foods from different people and organizations, which includes the North Carolina food bank, The Joseph House Crisis Center and the Family Crisis Center.
School Supplies – Each year, members of State Employees Credit Union will donate one or two thousand school supplies to the needy students at the beginning of the year and send them to these students so they can have a smooth school year.
SECU has a long history of giving back to the community through its scholarship programs through the support of the continuous education and learning needs of its members.
To date, the State Employees Credit Union Scholarship Foundation has been able to award more than $465,000 scholarships to more than 180 needy students.
Products offered at State Employees Credit Union
- Checking Account
- Share Savings Account
- Money Market Share Account
- Share Term Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
Their checking account will pay a moderate interest rate on your balance, which is much lower if you compare it to a money market account that I shall explain later on. This account gives you easy access to your cash with the use of a free debit card, or through online bill payment or even through the use of your checks.
You may not be able to establish a money transfer instruction from your account, but SECU accepts transfers from other banks.
Here are some of the benefits of their checking account
- You will earn 0.25% APY on your checking account.
- You shall pay only $1 per month as maintenance fee, and SECU usually donates this to charities.
- You get to enjoy overdraft facilities twice a year, and if you happen to spend more than you have in your account, the bank shall choose to transfer funds from other accounts you may have designated in advance to cover your payment. There is normally a fee for this, but with a checking account, you get these fees waived twice a year, so it’s free.
- You can pay for your bills using their free online bill payment.
- You shall receive a debit card that you can use for purchases or withdrawals.
- This account can be opened without any minimum balance, as long as you shall be able to cover the maintenance cost for the last three transactions.
- You shall also be receiving information through text concerning every three transactions.
Share savings account
This savings account is a share account, which means that it pays you interest on the account balance. It is an excellent account for funds you do not need to use immediately.
Credit unions use words such as “share accounts” because as a member, you do not just keep your money in the bank, but you are a shareholder, or rather a part-owner of the bank; hence the money you use is counted as your shares.
Here are some benefits of this account
- You shall earn 0.75% APY on all balances in the account.
- The account does not attract any monthly fees.
- You can open with a balance of $25 and maintain it at this balance to keep the account running and open.
- You can withdraw cash and make deposits easily i.e., cash or checks from the ATMs.
- You can use the balance in this account to help you get approval for cash-secured loans, which are also known as share-secured loans.
Money Market share account
This is a special savings account that offers very high-interest rates than the traditional saving accounts you are familiar with. It is also more flexible than the CD which we shall talk about next.
With a Money Market account, you can enjoy the convenience of having very quick access to your funds, and hence achieve your savings goals faster, since you shall be earning more interest compared to any other account.
You can also be able to deposit, withdraw, and transfer funds without being charged any penalties, just like a traditional saving account.
To get you started, State Employees Credit Union offers a 1.77% APY, interest on any deposit that is above $10,000. You can also start small and still get to enjoy some competitive rates, beyond what you would have enjoyed with a simple saving account.
There are two main types of Money market accounts
- Money Manager;
This account gives you competitive interest rates with lower deposits, and you can start with as little as $2,000, and get to watch your savings grow with their tiered interest rates. When you open a money manager account with more than $10,000, you shall enjoy a 1.77% Interest rate on your deposit.
- Money Market advantage
This is specially designed for people who wish to earn the highest interest rates and achieve their saving goals as quickly as possible. The minimum deposit requirement is $25,000, and you can make a special 1.77% introductory APY.
Certificate of Deposit or CD
This is a special type of saving account which offers much higher interest rates compared to the normal saving account and the money market account.
The interest rate you shall receive however depends on the term you choose, which ranges from 3 months to 5 years.
You can open a CD account with as little as $500.
The account restricts you from withdrawing any funds until the time you have set matures, which is one of the most effective saving method available.
This is an excellent option for people who want to save while earning high-interest rates, and the fact that you are not allowed to withdraw funds at any times, secures your money until you need it the most, and therefore, it is advisable to choose a time period that will coincide with your need for the money.
|Share Term Certificates|
In addition to the above accounts, SECU also offers retirement accounts for its members. If you expect that your tax rates will be higher during retirement than now, then a Roth IRA instead of a traditional IRA tax deductible would be ideal. This will ensure a special retirement account that is funded with post-tax income.
The account is ideal for;
- For anyone under 50, the contribution is $5,500 in 2018
- If your gross income that has been modified and adjusted and is more than $120,000 or $189,000 for couples who are married and want to file jointly, the contributions are reduced.
- Anyone earning more than $135,000 or $199,000 for couples can no longer contribute to Roth IRA because they are not eligible anymore
Other credit unions I have reviewed include;
- Tyndall Credit Union.
- Wright-Patt Credit Union.
- Suncoast Credit Union.
- Travis Credit Union.
- Arrowhead Credit Union
- America First Credit Union
With Credit unions, all you need to understand is that they are designed for savings. I am only pinpointing the type of accounts they have to offer because this is their main focus in business, i.e., helping you with your savings.
As much as everyone is different, it is always essential to come up with your saving plan that best suits your goals and more importantly is comfortable for you. Do not overstretch yourself and ensure you don’t have too many debts.
A good plan is to save 10% of your income. However, you can also save 20% if you are able, which gives you greater financial independence.
If you want to use the State Employees Credit Union, you can start here.