Many feel credit unions are working for members

AMHERST – Hollis resident Norman Burgess joined the then-Nashua Credit Union in 1970, shortly after his bank announced that it would begin charging for checking accounts.

He’s been a credit union member ever since, remaining with the same institution, which now goes by the name “Granite State Credit Union.”

“What they offered was what I needed: car loans, savings, checking,” Burgess said during an interview on the front step of the credit union’s branch on Route 101 A. “I’ve been there ever since.”

Burgess said the ongoing economic crisis has reinforced what he has believed for almost 40 years: member-owned credit unions work for their members and don’t take big risks with members’ money.

Unlike the banks, credit unions didn’t get involved in subprime lending or take other risks that have been linked to the global economic collapse and deepening recession.

“As it turns out, it’s a little comforting in these times to know credit unions never over-extended themselves, that they were frugal and thorough about who took loans, and they were certain when they loaned money that it was to people they could trust,” Burgess said,

Likewise Judy Rautenberg, who works in Nashua and lives farther north, said she was happy that she and her husband decided to join a credit union about 15 years ago.

“I like the service better,” Rautenberg said after finishing a transaction at the Amherst branch. “The service, the availability, and everything they have to offer.”

A Merrimack resident who said he had lost his job, requested anonymity before explaining why he belongs to a credit union.

“They know you, so you have a better chance of getting a loan,” he said, adding that the network of credit union-operated ATMs, which don’t require fees, was another attraction.