Hawaiian Credit Unions Are Thriving

Island cooperatives are shoring up members and assets amid merger activity.


Like credit unions nationwide, Hawaii’s roughly 85 credit unions promote the values “ohana, laulina, and lokahi,” meaning “family, harmony, and working together,” the Hawaii Credit Union league says.

Under those island priorities of fostering collaboration, credit unions in our tropical Aloha state have been establishing themselves in their communities and steadily gaining a loyal membership base.

In 2009, there were 89 credit unions in Hawaii, but several credit unions merged last year. Hawaii Federal Credit Union merged into Kapalama Federal Credit Union, Medicredit Federal Credit Union merged into HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union, Word of Life Federal Credit Union merged into Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union, and Tripler Federal Credit Union merged into Pentagon Federal Credit Union of Alexandria, VA.

Still, credit unions in Hawaii have mirrored the national trend of increasing their asset and membership base in recent years, diligently gaining a foothold in the state’s market. Hawaiian credit union membership climb slightly to 810,401 members in 2010 from 809,200 members last year. They noted $9.1 billion in assets in 2010, up from $8.8 billion the year prior, from $7.6 billion in 2008 and from $7.1billion in 2007.

Dole Federal Credit Union Wahiawa ($2.9M, Wahiawa, HI), with 764 members, was among the credit unions contributing to that trend as it edged its asset base up to $2.9 million in the second quarter of 2011 from $2.2 million the year prior.

Hawaiian credit unions have been active in promoting their low loan rates and community activism and outreach efforts. For example, Big Island Federal Credit Union, Hawaii’s first chartered credit union, ($75M, Hilo, HI), has been promoting its low-rate home equity line of credit, with a 3.5% introductory rate, along with its support for Special Olympics Hawaii, according to its second quarter newsletter.

Hawaii First Federal Credit Union ($38.5M, Kamuela, HI), with 6,745 members, is promoting its “Have a Rice Day” fall food drive, a joint effort with several other of the state's cooperatives to benefit the Hawaii Foodban. The cooperative is also opening Hawaii First Community Resource Center, which will include free computer access, financial counseling, and foreclosure assistance as well as other services for island residents.

"We have been working long and hard at making this a reality for our community members located in the rural areas on the Hilo side of the island," says Laura Aguirre, president and CEO, in a statement. "It's comforting for us to know our community members will not have to travel such long distances to access these vital services." 

The Hawaii Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union ($146M, Honolulu, HI), quickly established a relief fund earlier this month for the families of two police offers who died in a car accident, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Law Enforcement, with 11,743 members, increased its assets to $145.7 million in the second quarter of 2011 from $140.3 million the same quarter a year prior.