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Credit Union Youth Start the School Year Right with Valuable Financial Tools

Credit Union Youth Start the School Year Right with Valuable Financial Tools By Cyndi Cohen
Published August 27, 2014
Credit Unions Online
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As young people around the country bid farewell to summer and say hello to another school year, they are starting out fresh and ready to learn. Unfortunately, one area that often gets overlooked in the classroom is financial education.

While some schools recognize the importance of financial literacy, and do devote resources to its teachings, many are still lacking. However, young credit union members are fortunate to have a plethora of financial tools and resources at their fingertips. And as a new school year kicks off, this is a great time to take advantage of some of these benefits, and perhaps even share them with your classmates and school.

Maybe you had a summer job and need a safe place to deposit your earnings. Maybe you’re planning to work part-time during the school year, and want an account where your money can grow. If you’re off to college, a first-time debit and/or credit card might be in order. And, along with all of these, you need the right guidance to properly manage your money, build your credit, and practice good financial behavior. Your credit union can provide all of this, and more.

Tools Designed to Brighten Financial Futures

Credit unions are on a mission to help young people who are in vital need of financial intervention and support to become financially literate members of society. They offer dedicated checking accounts and credit cards, as well as financial education especially for youth and students to help ensure a brighter future for those 25 and under.

Meriwest Credit Union (San Jose, CA) offers a College Rewards Visa Card with 1 reward point for every $1 net purchase. Points last for 5 years and the current rate starts at 11.99% APR.

Meriwest also offers a FLOW Account for ages 13-24, which is a joint account until the youth reaches the age of 18 when they can have the account on their own. There are no NSF fees, and the debit card features a unique design exclusive to the account. “This account allows young people an opportunity to manage funds on their own, have online/mobile access, and transact independently,” said Tony Cortez, SVP, Chief Experience Officer.

There are a number of tutorial classes and seminars for middle and high schoolers offered by Meriwest which focus on youth activity and spending, and provide educational material about budgeting and money management.

“The philosophy of “people helping people” could be no truer in the opportunities and education Meriwest provides to today’s youth,” added Cortez. “This is the next generation of our members. It’s important that they have a good understanding of how to manage their finances, and the realities of budgeting and spending. It’s our responsibility to ensure that we’ve exposed them to the tools and materials that will help them make better financial decisions going forward.”

O Bee Credit Union (Tumwater, WA) offers new borrower credit cards with a $500.00 line of credit, with rates as low as 9.25%. We also offer new borrower auto loans with rates as low as 9.74%. Both programs required no credit and 90 days on the job with a few other underwriting criteria.

Kids ages 0-12 years can have an account in their own name as official members of the BeeSmart Savers Club. Those ages 13-17 are part of the Money 101 Club which includes Checking. The CU also recently launched their “Famous PINK Debit Card” which targets youth and young women, and supports the local United Way.

“Gen Y is our next building block to keeping the Credit Union movement going,” said Lee Wojnar, VP of Marketing. “We educate them on how critical good credit is in achieving success.”

Space Coast Credit Union (Melbourne, FL) offers a Student Credit Builder Visa Credit Card designed to help young adults develop good financial management skills early and build a positive credit history. “We understand students must learn how to manage credit responsibly, and parents appreciate having a tool to teach their kids,” explained David Barkholz, Marketing Specialist. “So, we’ve tailored the card in a way that protects them from some of the “harsher” penalties of a traditional credit card. We’ve found that educating teens and young adults on the proper use of credit can make a positive impact on how they manage credit as an adult.”

SCCU also offers a Student Checking Account geared towards teaching teenagers good financial habits while offering the same flexibilities of a traditional checking account. SCCU protects students with a free Visa Debit card featuring fraud protection, free account alerts, and no monthly drop-below fees.

There are two SCCU specialty savings accounts for minors meant to encourage children to learn about saving by gaining first-hand experience conducting financial transactions -- Sea Turtle Savings account for ages 0 to 12, and Student Savings account to help teach financial independence. Both earn monthly dividends, and offer the protection of no minimum balance fees. A debit card can be obtained with parent approval.

“By educating our student members and encouraging them to get in the habit of saving early, we are providing them with a strong foundation for the rest of their financial endeavors,” added Barkholz.

Likewise, Redwood Credit Union (Santa Rosa, CA) offers a share-secured Visa card, ideal for young adults and students. With as little as $500 deposited into a savings account, the member can obtain a credit card with a limit equivalent to the amount in that account.

RCU also offers free checking accounts for ages 16 and up which feature a free debit or ATM card with maximum daily limits set by the parent or guardian on the account, from $40 to $500. Plus, RCU’s Youth Account program encourages kids to save and learn how to manage money with two groups: Jr. Rangers, for age 12 and younger, and Jr. Partners for ages 13-17.

In addition, RCU just introduced a program for college students called Start Smart which provides money tips and services to help students succeed during college and beyond.

The account includes Debit and Rewards, Checking, and eServices, all for free as well as fee-free ATMs and no monthly fees or balance requirements.

If you’re a young credit union member, or the parent of one, find out how your credit union is helping young people and students get schooled in the ways of financial literacy. Or go one step further to help your community -- your school might be interested in hosting a financial education seminar taught by your credit union, and you could be the liaison!

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