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Don’t want your money at a big bank? Do this instead

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Bay Federal Credit Union works to promote members’ financial wellbeing.
(Getty Images)

Between scandals, high-pressure sales tactics, and support of non-eco friendly industries, it’s no surprise that more and more people are moving their money from banks to credit unions.

Ever wonder what’s the difference between a bank and a credit union? Let us explain!

In recent years, as many as 77 percent of Americans said they believe bankers would harm consumers if they thought they could make a lot of money doing so and get away with it, according to a survey addressing financial regulation. In contrast, the core mission of credit unions, such as Santa Cruz’s homegrown Bay Federal Credit Union, is to promote members’ financial wellbeing.

girl taking photo of check
(Getty Images)

So why such a stark difference? Because banks are for-profit institutions, while NCUA-insured credit unions are not-for-profit co-ops. Every member is also a shareholder. Bay Federal was started by a group of teachers 65 years ago, and it has been giving back to the communities of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties ever since. In 2021, it raised more than $67,000 for non-profits, it issued 113 Paycheck Protection loans for local business owners, and it granted more than 500 emergency loans for members in crisis. It regularly offers scholarships and provides financial wellness resources to its members and the community.

It does all of this while fulfilling members’ financial needs. Below is just a sampling of the many products and services that Bay Federal offers.

  • An Easy-to-Use App: With the BayFed Mobile App, you can check your balance, send money, deposit checks, and more.
  • Rewards Credit Cards: Bay Federal offers low-variable interest rates and benefits on its Visa credit cards, most of which have no annual fee. If you travel abroad, Visa will handle conversions for you.
  • Access to Cash: Bay Federal has branch locations in Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos, Watsonville, Freedom, and Salinas — and members can access a fee-free network of ATMs across the country and the world.
  • Auto Loans: Purchasing a car with a loan helps build your credit, and expands your buying options. Members can apply to skip a payment twice each year for a small fee (the amount is moved to the end of the loan).
  • Friendly Support: Whether you seek help over the phone or in a branch, you’ll be speaking with a local person who is a member-owner just like you.
  • Fraud Awareness: Bay Federal regularly keeps members informed about new scams and works with local agencies to combat fraud.
  • Financial Support: Bay Federal provides members with financial education resources and access to all levels of financial planning.
  • Home Loans: When you’re ready to put down roots, Bay Federal has an array of mortgage solutions to fit different situations, including a program dedicated to first-time homebuyers.

Last year, 5 million people joined credit unions across the country. This year, will you be one of them?

ABOUT US: Bay Federal Credit Union was started when local school teachers pooled their money together to start a credit union. That investment has grown through an amazing journey of involvement (evolution) into the area’s largest locally-owned financial institution, with over $1.6 billion in assets.

Bay Federal provides full service financial products and solutions to Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties. Whether a community member is looking to buy a home, purchase a car, save some money, or access the latest in banking technology, our local and friendly employees are here to help.

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