It’s always nice to see a credit union that has many good deposit deals make it easier for people to qualify for membership. That’s the case with Tobyhanna Federal Credit Union (TobyFCU) which is based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Members of American Consumer Council (ACC) can now qualify for membership in TobyFCU. There are several good deposit account deals at TobyFCU that should interest savers. I’ll cover these in the next few days, but I first wanted to highlight this eligibility change.
The full details of TobyFCU’s membership qualifications are listed in the credit union’s How to Join page. Membership used to be primarily limited Select Employee Groups (SEGs). Now three associations are listed, and according to the credit union "If you are or choose to become a member of or volunteer with one of the following organizations, you may be eligible to join TobyFCU." One of the three associations is ACC, and the credit union describes how you join the ACC without a membership fee:
Join the American Consumer Council by clicking 'Apply Online' to the right. Enter the promo code "consumer" to waive the membership fee. We can also enroll you when we open your account.
Credit unions can’t arbitrarily make it easier to join. All credit unions are required to have a field of membership (FOM) which defines a common bond for members. With approval from regulators, credit unions can expand their FOMs. The best FOM expansion is when a credit union adds associations to their FOMs. In that case members of that association become eligible for credit union membership. If the association has an easy and cheap membership option, that becomes an easy and cheap way to join the credit union.
ACC membership is in the FOMs of many credit unions, and most of these credit unions are on my List of Credit Unions Open to Anyone.
The only problem with association memberships in FOMs is that the credit unions have to be careful to comply with NCUA rules. Last year the NCUA sent a letter to federal credit unions warning them about the requirements for the associational common bond. The letter stated that the "NCUA’s Office of Consumer Protection has begun conducting quality control reviews of federal credit unions that may be improperly using associations to sign up members without a common bond."
It appears that ACC membership is still an acceptable associational common bond in the eyes of the NCUA. Hopefully, that will continue, and to help it remain that way, I’m not going to announce that TobyFCU is now on my list of credit unions open to all.