Georgia's Credit Union Celebrate International Credit Union Month

Allie Jackson

Monday, October 13th, 2014

In an effort to spread awareness about how credit unions can save Georgians money, many of them will participate in a “Switch to Save” campaign in October.

The campaign highlights why Georgians should consider switching their loans from other for-profit financial institutions to a credit union. Most credit unions offer the same services and products as banks – most often with lower fees, better rates on loans and higher interest on deposit accounts.

“Credit unions are cooperative, owned by and for members” said Mike Mercer, CEO and President of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. “Credit unions are wired to help people.”

Members not only enjoy these financial benefits, but being not-for-profit institutions gives credit union employees a different perspective of members when conducting business.

“It’s fair to say that the average consumer benefits in a number of ways. Yes, one is financially,” said Peach State Federal Credit Union CEO Marshall Boutwell. “But the other is harder to measure. It’s about matching up the right product for our members. It’s the trusted advisor component of the relationship with members. We don’t look at members as a source of revenue. They are owners of the credit union and that changes our perception. The credit union is looking out for the members’ best interest rather than the institution’s agenda.”

Credit unions exist to help people afford life. With products and services like used vehicle loans for low-credit score borrowers, small value personal loans, savings programs, mortgages and accounts with fewer fees and minimum balance requirements, credit unions are tangibly helping those with middle class aspirations.

“Credit unions offer a value added proposition to their members that for-profit financial institutions typically do not offer,” said President and CEO of Southeastern Federal Credit Union Mike Gudely. “A member’s needs can be placed above the aspiration to maximize profits, enabling the credit union to take a consultative approach to satisfying member requirements, versus a sales approach designed to provide certain products and services, whether or not they are desired or needed.  This serves the best interest of the member while providing a fair return to the overall membership.”

Georgia credit unions impact their members, their communities and beyond. They dedicate volunteer hours to worthy causes and provide programs to empower people to make informed financial decisions. Last year, 83 percent of Georgia credit unions surveyed by GCUA partnered with community-based non-profits raising $1.68 million for charities and donating $162,812 worth of volunteer hours. Also, more than 13,500 Georgia consumers attended a credit union sponsored educational event.

Some specific examples around the state are Southeastern Federal Credit Union donating $50,000 to help create a high-tech facility to provide hands-on stock market trading experience for students at Valdosta State University.  In the Atlanta area, Platinum Federal Credit Union raised more than $10,000 in 2013 for Aga Khan Foundation’s Partnerships in Action Walk & Golf, an organization committed to the struggle against poverty, hunger, illiteracy and poor health, primarily in Africa and Asia.

Other credit unions have pioneered new lending avenues. MidSouth Community Federal Credit Union tweaked their auto lending program in 2013, making it possible for 943 members – who otherwise would not have qualified – to get an auto loan.

Numerous credit unions will celebrate International Credit Union (ICU) Day Oct. 16 with member-centered activities. The aim is to raise awareness about the value being created by credit unions, and offer members the opportunity to get involved in celebrating their financial cooperatives.

ICU Day at Georgia Heritage Federal Credit Union will consist of free lunch for members. This year, at the main office, which is located at 1085 W. Lathrop Avenue, Savannah GA, 31415, employees will serve grilled hot dogs with all the fixings, chips, cookies, sweet and un-sweet tea. At the other two branches will be sandwiches, chips, cookies and tea for members. GHFCU will also offer a free giveaway during the event. 

For more information on Switch to Save or to find a credit union near you, go to