Let me start out by saying that this investigation into credit unions may not take as long as I originally thought in part 1. Just doing Internet searches, I found 10 in Phoenix metro. My criterion to narrow it down from there was simple geography: the proximity to Central Phoenix and the number of their locations. I did this via the most important investigative step: I found them all on the Local First Arizona website. Reviewing those I narrowed them down from five to settle on three (the links that follow are to their reviews on Local First): Arizona Central Credit Union, Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, and Marisol Federal Credit Union.
I did all of this before I contacted any of the Credit Unions in person.
I then narrowed it down from three, to two, because Marisol Federal Credit Union wouldn’t pick up their phone. That’s a big deal when it comes to a bank. Before I called, I looked at their website and saw that in order to avoid fees on their accounts, the minimum balance was pretty high. I wouldn’t really save anything compared to my existing account at JPWellsComeriBank in that area. Conclusion: Marisol was out of the running.
I didn’t just pick up the phone, though, and start calling the three before I narrowed it down to two. I started with an Excel spreadsheet, naturally, where I prepared to rate each credit union according to the following categories:
- Number of ATM locations?
- Online system usability?”The online stuff is important because I don’t want to be forced to go into the bank. Who does? Small business owners want to be able to just get it done on their computers.” ~ Me
- What did their bill pay system look like (and did it cost anything)?
- Their security system (if credit card is stolen? How secure is their internal information?)
- Customer service?
- Fee structure (personal and business checking, personal and health savings?)
- Reinvest locally?
- Member of Local First Arizona?
That left two Credit Union’s worth more serious consideration: An actual physical trip to the branch.
I started with Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, before I went to Arizona Central Credit Union. In part 3 of my investigation, I’ll share those two experiences, what I decided and why. (I may even include another humorous link as a bonus. What? You didn’t see it? I’ll give you one guess which link it is…)