The Search for the Perfect PFI (part 1)

Five criteria a Callahan Gen Y-er is looking for in a credit union.


I’ve been with Callahan & Associates for almost a year. Ever since I entered the credit union world, I have believed in the cooperative difference. I continuously try to convince my friends and family to join a credit union by declaring, “Don’t you want to be a part of a financial institution that actually cares about its members?”

Yet here I am, still going to the bank — Capitol One — on the corner. Two factors have been holding me back from joining a credit union: convenience and time. When you are in college, you need a financial institution that is close to campus and is easily accessible from school as well as home. Time also comes into play. I have had a bank account for more than eight years, so why make the effort to open a new account? Better rates, less fees, and the reassurance that my financial institution is out to protect my money are three solid reasons that immediately come to mind.  

Now that I’ve entered young adulthood, here are the criteria I am looking for in a primary financial institution.

1) Location, Location, Location Convenience is everything for me. Is it close to my office? Is there a branch or shared branch near my apartment? Will I be able to easily find an ATM?

2) Free checking — Such a perk is getting harder to find these days.

3) Online Banking — I want to easily manage my accounts online. This includes making payments. Gone are my days of balancing my checkbook by hand!

4) Credit Cards — After having my credit card account closed for no reason last summer (see Gen Y Gets Hit Hard Where it Counts … In the Wallet), I am looking for a credit union that provides good rates and allows me to transfer balances.

5) Auto loans — I do not currently own a car, but I want to buy one in the near future. I want a financial institution that offers auto loans and gives me a decent rate and payment.

BONUS! Loan Consolidation — I know several Credit Union Student Choice institutions are also starting to offer loan consolidation, so looking at credit unions that offer student loans gives me hopes they might consolidate my loans in the future.

That’s my list. Am missing anything? Are there other things young members should be considering? I’d love to hear your comments below!

Read The Series

The Search For The Perfect PFI (part 1)
The Search For The Perfect PFI (part 2)
The Search For The Perfect PFI (part 3)


May 20, 2011


  • I sercahed a bunch of sites and this was the best.
  • I've been a member of a credit union since 1979, and when i moved from the area in 2003, i joined another credt union (but I kept the other account open). To fund my HSA account, I joined another credit union even though I could have opened an account at a local bank. Location? I used shared branching and have never paid a fee at an ATM of another credit union. Likewise, i have never paid for my checking account. Switching accounts? The pros outweigh the cons. One major reason I stick with credit unions is because they are local, provide jobs to my community, are contributors to my local economy, and if i ever need to have a conversation with someone who can actually 'do something' to help a situation, i can talk to them face to face. Go go go to your favorite local credit union and put down roots there. It will be worth it as you grow up with it.
  • Don't forget the "no cost" ATM advantage at thousands of ATMs - not just the host bank.
    Dick Johnson