When you've been in the credit union industry as long as we have, you get used to answering one question more than any other: "Who can join a credit union?" Some people are under the impression that they cannot join a credit union without first being employed by a Fortune 500 company; still others think that credit unions require some extra level of financial competencies, such as a high credit score or thousands of dollars in deposits.
Most of these misconceptions boil down to the myth that credit unions are focused on keeping people out. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Membership requirements are the credit union's way of asking potential members, "Do you have something in common with the rest of our community?" Since credit unions are owned by their members, this ensures that everyone with a financial stake in the organization also shares a stake in the future of the community it serves.
So as part of the Credit Union National Association's ongoing campaign inviting non-members to Open Your Eyes To a Credit Union®, we're clearing up a few misconceptions about credit unions and their members.
It's Easier To Join a Credit Union Than You Think
While the membership requirements of every credit union vary a bit based on their size and location, most of them boil down to either organizational or geographical components. In many cases, merely living in the same city as a credit union is more than enough to join one of its local branches. For example, Amplify Credit Union requires that any potential members 'live, work, worship, or go to school' in the five central Austin counties. This opens the door to many different membership paths.
- Maybe you’re a student at any of the eight University of Texas System locations;
- Maybe you work full-time at that exciting new startup in Austin;
- Maybe you’re a full-time freelance photographer shooting weddings in Houston;
- Maybe you spend your Sundays with friends and family members at Temple Shalom in Dallas.
In each of these scenarios - and countless others just like them - you would immediately be eligible to join Amplify Credit Union. Not only that, but you’d also be able to consider many of the other excellent credit unions available in Austin. Both United Heritage Credit Union and Velocity Credit Union, two more credit unions with deep ties to the Austin community, have similar language—’live or work’—in their membership requirements.
One Family Member Means All Family Members
Since our creation in 1967, we've been lucky enough to serve as the primary financial institution for multiple generations of family members. In some cases, parents helped teach their children necessary money management skills by opening a savings account for them when they are just kids. In other cases, spouses and in-laws will join Amplify to ensure that the entire household's transactions stay under a single financial roof. This is made possible by another critical tenant of credit unions everywhere: once one person in your family is a member, the rest of the family is immediately eligible as well.
In the case of Amplify, if any member of your family is already a member—parents, grandparents, spouse, children, and more—then you are immediately eligible to sign up for an Amplify savings account. This means that no matter where you are in your life, we can offer the financial tools—from savings accounts for the kids to retirement services for the grandparents—to help you get more out of your banking experience.
Once You're a Member, You're a Member for Life
But what if your circumstances change? Since so many membership requirements are tied to a specific location, people sometimes wonder what happens to their membership if they relocate or retire outside of their state. Good news: for most credit unions, once you become a member, you never need to worry about having that membership revoked. Given the money management options available to customers, members can build a lasting relationship with their credit union even if they end up in a different part of the world altogether. You may not have access to a branch with your credit union’s logo on the front, but through shared branches and online banking, you’ll never lose that personal touch.
And with so many businesses setting up shop in Texas, this is an especially important value for Amplify Credit Union members. U.S. News & World Report recently highlighted a handful of recognizable organizations—including major corporations like Toyota, Pizza Hut, and Keurig—that are choosing to move their North American headquarters to Texas. Meanwhile, the Austin Chamber of Commerce identified 46 businesses that moved their headquarters to Austin from elsewhere, resulting in a whopping 9,242 new jobs in the Austin metro. If you’re one of the thousands of people relocating to Texas with your job, you shouldn’t have to worry about the long-term ramifications of choosing to bank with a regional credit union. As country legend Lyle Lovett once wrote, “That’s right, you’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.” This stays true no matter where you end up.
Of course, the ability to join a credit union is just one part of the equation. For more information on how credit unions allow their members to access their money anywhere through online and shared banking, visit Where Can You Access Your Credit Union Savings? or head over to the Open Your Eyes To a Credit Union® page on our website. You can also learn more about how Amplify Credit Union is empowering our community by reading about our ongoing Safe Place To Call Home campaign to end homelessness in Central Texas.