Credit Union ATMs: Convenient, Affordable, and Member-Friendly
By Cyndi Cohen Published June 18, 2013 Credit Unions Online
Almost all credit union members use an ATM at some point during a typical week whether to make deposits, pay loans, withdraw cash, or just check balances. In their notable member-friendly spirit, credit unions strive to make a member’s ATM experience (like all financial transactions) a positive one.
Credit union ATM services are usually defined by expansive networks made possible through partnerships which allow for many accessible ATM locations. CUs also ensure that ATM usage is cost-effective for members by not only saving them money through a lack of fees on the credit union end, but by actually paying them back with rebates for any out-of-network ATM surcharges.
ATM Networks Exemplify ‘People Helping People’
Service Credit Union (Portsmouth, NH) has 70 ATMs in its network but is also part of the SUM and CO-OP Networks where members have access to free ATMs in over 30,000 locations.
First Tech Federal’s Deborah Colby, VP of marketing & Business Development, explained how the CO-OP Partnership is based on the principle of ‘People Helping People.’ “Even though we sometimes compete with each other in the same markets, at the end of the day, we all understand that it’s about serving our members anywhere they are.” As such, credit unions that partner together through the Shared Branch Network and with the CO-OP Network often times have more ATM locations nationwide than many banks do.
“At First Tech, when you factor in our surcharge rebates at any nationwide ATM when you meet account qualifications, our members can use virtually any ATM in the country. Further, we’re the first credit union in the nation to have mobile apps for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone platforms, all of which allow our members to locate any ATM in the country,” added Colby.
CUs Giving Back with Surcharge Rebates
Most credit unions now offer ATM surcharge rebates standard as part of their checking accounts.
Service Credit Union will rebate any ATM surcharge from other financial institutions, and members are refunded automatically up to a total of $20 a month. Plus, SCU offers free withdrawals from non-SCU ATMs up to 20 per month saving members up to an additional $30 monthly. Members must have direct deposit of entire net pay into an SCU account and maintain a positive balance in all their SCU accounts.
Lori Holmes, Assistant Vice President of Marketing for SCU, reported that members have responded very positively to this benefit especially in SCU’s Net Promoter survey and on Facebook. “Service Credit Union takes pride in giving back to our members, not just with higher deposit rates and lower loan rates, but with free ATMs as well.”
In fact, one of the main reasons for consumers to consider a credit union is to avoid fees. According to SCU Executive Vice President, William Newman, more than 32,000 members have taken advantage of Service Credit Union rebates which includes ATM surcharge and 1% Visa fee rebates. “We give back to our membership more than $2.2 million in fee rebates,” said Newman. “This is just one way we return their profits from the credit union back to the membership.”
“Anticipating and serving the financial needs of our members remains at the core of each of our benefits, products and services,” contended Gordon Simmons, President/CEO. “It is obvious that consumers do not want to pay fees. The ATM rebate is a way to help save money for our valued members who find themselves outside our ATM network.”
Likewise, over 10 years ago SPIRE Credit Union implemented a Rebate Program for ATM fees. This program was designed to reward members for doing business with the CU, for being a stakeholder in SPIRE.
Tara Graff, Marketing Manager explained that the amount of your rebate is dependent upon your aggregate average daily balance, which is calculated from the last statement date. “The rebate is given automatically and members appreciate this service.”
With their Dividend Rewards Checking account, a First Tech Federal member is also entitled to have their out-of-network ATM surcharges automatically rebated on a monthly basis based on some minor criteria:
Make a minimum of 12 debit card purchases during each qualifying period (month)
Have direct deposit OR one recurring ACH withdrawal
Be enrolled in our e-Statement service
Colby said that members describe ATM rebates as the most sought after and loved feature of their checking account. “Leveraging technology to make our members’ financial lives easier is part of First Tech’s philosophy - giving our members’ access to cash at any ATM by rebating surcharges in the US supports that philosophy.” At the same time, by requiring the qualifications noted above, First Tech ensures the organization is returning value, in this case in the form of ATM rebates, to their most engaged members.
Colby explained that there is often still a perception out there that banking with a credit union means you have fewer locations to access your money. Since that is obviously untrue, CUs like First Tech are working to combat such misconceptions. “By offering ATM rebates, we cannot only compete with larger banks and their networks, but actually win the battle for new members, increase active engagement, and drive deeper financial relationships with our members in addition to being able to serve our members anywhere they are in the country.”
Tired of ATM fees? Looking for a more affordable and convenient way to conduct your everyday financial transactions? Find a credit union and join today!