How Do I Become a Credit Union Member?


If you’ve been considering switching banks or adding an account at another bank, you’re not alone. Many people do their primary banking at one financial institution but have loans through financial institutions. If you’re looking for a customer service–centered banking experience with folks who have respect and integrity, you’ve come to the right place. Credit union staff are your financial and community advocates, focused on the success of our members and our community.

Plus, you’ll enjoy some great perks for joining our credit union family. At banks or other financial institutions, you might be called a “customer.” But if you sign up with an account at Central Willamette Credit Union, we’ll call you a member.

What are the best reasons for becoming a credit union member? And how do you get started? We’re confident you’ll see we put our money where our mouth is.

1. What’s the Difference?

First, it’s good to know that credit union members get a lot more banking for their buck. For instance, a bank is a for-profit company and will have owners and shareholders they need to satisfy. These folks are the only ones who receive the profits from the bank, in the form of dividends and stocks.

A credit union is different, though. Since it’s a not-for-profit venture, the owners of the credit union are the members themselves. As a credit union member, you’ll see benefits in the shape of lower rates and higher dividends. There are fewer fees, and where there are fees, they’re generally lower than the rates you’ll see at banks.

2. Benefits for Your Wallet

The benefits of a checking or savings account at a credit union will put money back into your pocket. Check it out—a CWCU Simply Free Checking account includes no minimum balance or service charge, you’ll get a debit card for your account, and we’ll buy back debit cards and unused checks from your current institution if you’re switching to using your Central Willamette Credit Union account solely.

You’ll also have access to online banking and bill pay, mobile banking through our app, and eStatements, which will show you online check images (good for recordkeeping—just in case you forgot who you wrote a check to). You’ll even be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a prize!

3. Benefits for Your Kids

Teaching your child about savings and compounding interest is something we aim to make easy. When your child opens a Kid Kash savings account of their own, they can see their statements and how the interest accrues. You can transfer their allowance directly to their account, or they can put their own hard-earned cash in and watch it grow. Your child can open the account with a starting deposit of $5, or they can receive a free piggy bank when they open the account with a deposit of $100 or more.

Account-holders will also receive a Kid Kash punch card for savings rewards. For every $5 they deposit in person, they’ll receive one punch in the card. Fill the card and win prizes! What a great way to start good saving habits.

4. Benefits for Your Teens

It doesn’t stop there—we have savings and checking account programs for your teenagers as well. Not only is this a great first checking account, but if they have their eyes on a college degree, we have an Education IRA program for their consideration too. This is a great way for your teen to learn money management skills. You’ll see similar perks here as with an adult checking account: no monthly service charge, no minimum balance requirements, and unlimited check writing, making it more convenient to use their account, no matter where they are.

There’s also a Visa debit card that comes with this account, so your teen can be covered for everyday purchases if personal checks aren’t accepted. Plus, if your teen would like to give back to a local high school with Central Willamette money, ask about a high school Visa debit card at any of our six branches. You can choose to give back to South Albany, West Albany, or Lebanon High School. Every time the card is swiped, Central Willamette will donate to the high school on your teen’s card. It’s a great way to show school spirit.

5. Loans, Loans, Loans Galore

Our credit union members get the benefits of effortless loans, no matter what you’re applying for. New or used car? RV and boats? Sportscraft? Home or second home? Personal loans? Payday loans? We have you covered. An auto loan can go for as low as 2.99% APR. We’ll even finance up to 100% of the cash sale price or 100% of MSRP at a fixed rate for up to 84 months on a new car loan. It’s easy to apply for any loan as well—you can do it online, visit us in-person at any of our branch locations, or give us a call to get started.

6. Great! How Do I Get Started?

Starting the process of becoming a credit union member is easy. You can even apply online. All you’ll need to get started are:

  • Social Security number (you won’t need the card, just the number).
  • Government-issued ID, such as a state-issued driver’s license or a passport.
  • Physical address (not a PO box); you can bring a utility bill or other piece of mail to prove your address.

If you’re funding your account electronically from another bank or credit union, you’ll need to bring your checking or savings account number and the routing number of the bank you’re funding from.

If you’re applying online, you’ll then have the opportunity to create a security question and answer that will allow you to save and continue your application, just in case you’re not able to complete the sign-up process in one session.

Of course, we’re always happy to answer any of your questions about these subjects and more. Visit us online or at any of our locations and we’d be happy to help you get started.