The work we do with credit unions allows them to make real differences in the lives of their members and communities. This could be through CDFI certification or grant funding, assisting with business plans, product design, partnership creation or any of our other many services. And as part of this work, we get to hear the wonderful member impact stories that illustrate what credit unions are doing to unlock opportunities in the communities they serve. We will be highlighting some of these stories here.
Orange County’s Credit Union Sees a Person, Not a Credit Score
A member was struggling with poor credit as a result of being victimized by identity theft. When she moved to Orange County, California and rented an apartment, the deposit she had to pay was four times the normal amount!
She attempted several times to open a checking account at different banks but was unable to, despite earning a decent living and explaining why her credit score was so low. Instead, she was forced to use a check cashing shop for her paychecks that charged an outrageous fee. She worked to rebuild her credit, but could only get a secured credit card with a 20% interest rate.
Eventually, she found help at Orange County’s Credit Union and was not only able to open a checking and savings account, but was also approved for a much-needed $16,000 car loan. The credit union representatives listened to her story and were able to give her the loan, meaning she no longer had to commute to her job by bicycle.
The member subsequently contacted the credit union to thank them. The last part of her message: “Somebody actually believes in me. You have no idea how important that was to me… to know that somebody believed in me.” Orange County’s Credit Union believed in treating the whole person, rather than just a credit score.
A Member's Partnership with Express Credit Union Makes it Possible to Get Out of Debt, Build Income and Create Financial Stability
Sarah was 25 years old when she first joined Express Credit Union in 2009 and a new first-time mother. She was struggling financially, had bad credit and couldn't get a checking account.
Express Credit Union initially qualified Sarah to open a savings account and continued to work with her. In less than a year of opening the savings account, she paid off a negative balance on a different bank account, and then qualified to open a checking account with Express.
In the early days, she was able to access the credit union’s Pay Day Alternative loan product to help build credit and pay down debts. She even earned refunds for paying the loans off on time without penalty.
Over time, Express was able to finance her first auto loan, which allowed her to get to work and take her daughter to daycare, instead of using public transportation. In her words, "Honestly, Express provided exactly what I needed from a banking partnership in the early stages of trying to get out of debt, build income and create some financial stability."
Since joining Express, Sarah has become the owner of a small insurance agency. She purchased a home in west Seattle that she now rents out, as she has moved to Washington, D.C. and just bought a second home there. Sarah still is a fully active and engaged Express member even now that she lives on the East Coast.
She gave that first car to her mother, since it holds such sentimental value and demonstrates to her the progress she's made and success she's created.