Credit Unions are financial bodies created to help the community rather than focusing on profit. Over the years, credit unions have grown to be popular alternatives to banks in Canada and even much more in Alberta.
More credit unions have been established since 1900 when the first one was established by Alphonse Desjardins. The credit unions in Alberta are alternatives to the five big banks in Canada, offering personal and business banking services.
There are over 200 credit unions in Canada and according to the Canadian Credit Union (CCUA) Association, as of the second quarter of 2022, there were 212 credit unions with combined assets of $302.6 billion.
One of the main reasons behind credit unions is the giving back to members and thus, contributing to the local economy. By doing so, donations are made, scholarships are provided and capitals are raised for small businesses.
Credit Union and Banks
Credit unions and banks are similar and offer similar services such as debit and credit cards, savings accounts, and chequing accounts.
However, while banks are private organizations looking to make profits, credit unions are owned by their members. Other differences are:
- Credit unions emphasize on providing members with the bestproducts and services and profits are usually reinvested in the community or given out as dividends.
- They are more focused on customer service.
- They provide lower interest rates compared to banks. However, banks also offer affordable rates.
- They focus on financial education and providing financial information to their members.
- Large banks have more branches across Canada than credit unions.
- Credit unions are emphatic on supporting the local communities.
How Safe is Alberta Credit Unions?
The Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) addresses deposits in Canada should there be a collapse of a financial institution such as banks and credit unions.
This ultimately makes credit unions safe to use. In Canada, all provinces have a deposit insurer that ensures the deposits of credit union members and overseas compliance. It’s the Alberta Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation overseeing that in Alberta.
It protects deposit products such as savings and term deposits. It, however, does not cover some things such as stocks, bongs, ETFs, mutual funds, treasury bills, and more.
Five of the Best Credit Unions in Alberta
1. Bow Valley Credit Union
Founded in 1952, Bow Valley Credit Union is one of the smaller credit unions in Alberta. It has 6 branches in the Bow Valley Corridor. Bow Valley Credit Union offers a wide set of personal banking services, investment products, and insurance products.
2. 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union
1st Choice Savings and Credit Union is also a smaller credit union, however, with over 75 years of history up its belt and a wide range of banking services. It has 17, 000 members and 6 branches.
It offers personal cheque accounts, selection of credit cards and a pool of investment products, mortgages, loans, and specialist agriculture products.
3. Vision Credit Union
With a long history, spanning up to 70 years and over 36,000 members, Vision Credit Union is one of the highly sought after credit unions in Alberta. It is the largest in the province of Camrose with over $2 billion in assets and 23 branches.
It performs numerous banking functionalities such as chequing accounts, savings accounts, loans of varying forms, mortgages, overdrafts and many more.
Customers can invest with mutual funds, tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), RRIFs, and RESPs. Furthermore, it offers business and agriculture banking services.
4. Servus Credit Union
According to CCUA, Servus Credit Union was the 4th largest credit union in Canada as at 2022. It was established in 1938 as the first credit union in Alberta.
Now, it has over 100 branches across Alberta and almost 400,000 members. Its services include; bank accounts, loans, mortgages, insurance and many more. It also has numerous credit cards and numerous chequing and savings accounts.
In addition, it has multiple investment products such as RRSPs, TFSAs and many more. It also performs estate planning, wealth strategy, and retirement planning services, business bank accounts, business credit cards and succession planning services.
5. connectFirst Credit Union.
One of the largest credit union organizations in Alberta and the 12th largest credit union in Canada, connectFirst Credit Union has a long history of serving communities.
It was established in 1938 as a result of the merging of several credit unions, one of which is First Calgary Financial. connectFirst currently has over 40 branches in communities that span across Alberta. It offers bank accounts, free accounts for kids, and several savings accounts services.
In addition, it also offers fixed rates, mortgages, overdrafts, lines of credit and personal loans services. Furthermore, term deposits, RRSPs, TFSAs, mutual funds are some of her investment products.
Customers can also access agriculture, accounts, insurance, and investment products and also connect with wealth advisors for financial planning.