Which Credit Union Can I Join?

If prospective members can’t easily determine whether they are eligible to join a credit union, they’ll lose patience and interest.

In my last blog, I discussed briefly the hassle I encountered on one credit union website while trying to determine my membership eligibility.Callahan senior writer, Marc Rapport, suggested an assignment: Try to get this information from eight credit unions here in the Columbia, SC, area.

And I did just that.

Am I Eligible To Join?

You’d think finding this information would be easy, but it wasn’t. The general membership requirements most credit unions use live, work, worship, or attend school in a certain geographic area were easy to find. But when membershipis more nuanced, I found some credit unions do not make eligibility easy to determine.

The average attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds


Three of the eight credit unions I considered use census tracts to determine fields of membership, but my census tract was not easy to find on two of the credit union sites. In these cases, I visited the American Fact Finderthrough the U.S. Census Bureau’s website and looked through census tract maps to determine if I was eligible for membership. It took me approximately 20 minutes to sift through the maps on the websiteand select the right data to determine my membership eligibility.

One of the credit unions that used tract data listed all the qualifying tracts in a drop down menu and left it up to me to go to a government geographic data maptofind out my census tract numbers. I then had to cross reference my result with the drop-down menu.

Although other credit union sites I visited didn’t require me to be a professional geographer, some were still unclear about membership requirements and required me to browse several tabs just to discover I was NOT eligible.

Who’s going to go through all that? Not this millennial. And not my boomer senior writer, either, he points out.

According to StatisticBrain.comthe average attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds. It took 20 minutes to figure out my membership eligibility. Do you see theproblem?

The Right Idea

I went to greater lengths than I normally would to find eligibility information. In reality, and not for the sake of an assignment, I would have moved on to a more convenient financial institution.

But there is one institution that does an excellent job in its display of census tract data. South Carolina Federal Credit Union($1.2B, North Charleston, SC)provides an interactive mapthat shades the eligible areas in a blue hue. This is how credit unions need to displaytheir membership eligibility data.

Yet, I still have a complaint. There is important information for potential members that isn’t effectively highlighted. For example, to get to the map, I had to click on a tiny qualify link at the bottom of the membership page. Thatshould be at the top of the page and in bold font. Better yet, including the map link on the page with the qualifying information would alleviate the need to redirect prospective members.

Overall, the existence of this map puts Carolina FCU ahead of the pack. I can easily determine my membership with two to three clicks of my mouse. The credit union does the work for me, so all I need to do is click to join.

That’s how you’ll hook me and my boomer colleague he’s not that patient, either.

February 20, 2017

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