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Is Your Credit Union a Part of the Shared Branch Network?


You’ve heard it plenty of times, there’s strength in numbers. That goes for credit unions too. Shared branching is win-win for the credit union member who benefits from access to a broad network and the credit union because being a part of the network is a plus in recruiting and retaining customers. It’s not surprising then, that the number of credit unions participating in CO-OP Financial Services’ CO-OP Shared Branching network continues to grow.

In 1975 shared branching began in Michigan with five Metro Detroit area credit unions through Service Centers Corporation. Today, 1,800 credit unions, serving 50 million members at 5,600 locations are part of the CO-OP Shared Branching network.

What’s the appeal?

“You can do anything as if you were in your own branch,” says Kathy Herziger-Snider, PhD., senior vice president ATM/Debit/Prepaid/Shared Branch, for CO-OP Financial Services. “This is a powerful ability, especially in a time of natural disasters. If your branch is down you can go to another branch in the network and the teller has access to all your account information.” Not just savings and checking, but loans -- everything. “You can still pay your bills on time,” she adds.

How does it work?

Joe Mecca, AVP. Communication for Coastal Credit Union, says his credit union participates in the CO-OP Shared Branching network. He explains how it works. “Members of participating credit unions have access to transaction services (typically deposits, withdrawals and transfers) at any other credit union that offers the shared branching services. Credit unions can participate by offering shared branching access to their own members, providing shared branch services to other credit unions’ members, or both.  Coastal currently participates only by enabling our members to use the system.”

While the network is growing, only 1,800 out of more than 6,000 credit unions in the U.S. are members. You can find out if your credit union is a member at CO-OP Credit Unions.

He highlights the advantages, “CO-OP Shared Branching is actually the second largest branch network in the nation (only Wells Fargo has more locations), giving members of credit unions like ours, access to 5,600 branch locations nationwide.  This is particularly beneficial to Coastal because many of our members came to us from tech companies that have a strong presence in the Research Triangle area (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) of North Carolina, but also have locations around the country. While we serve our local members well through our own 22 branches, our presence and our focus is entirely local. For members who travel or relocate for work, Shared Branching allows them to keep the relationship with the credit union they love, yet still have convenient access to their accounts wherever they go.”

What you need to think about

While the network is growing, only 1,800 out of more than 6,000 credit unions in the U.S. are members. You can find out if your credit union is a member at CO-OP Credit Unions.

Says Mecca, “There aren’t many downsides once a member understands how shared branching works. It’s all about setting expectations. The other credit union is going to be able to provide transaction services very well, but isn’t likely to have intimate knowledge of Coastal, so they won’t be able to provide the higher-level services that we can in our own branches, or that they can provide to their own members. Similarly, they aren’t going to be opening accounts or taking loan applications on our behalf. Fortunately, we have a robust online presence to facilitate service, lending and account opening for members who aren’t in our local footprint.”

Mostly though, says Mecca, “Shared branching – along with national surcharge-free ATM networks - are a great way for smaller local and regional credit unions to have a much larger service presence for their members.”

misskaybo   |     |   Comment #1
Shared branching is the greatest thing since sliced bread! When taking advantage of Ken's great postings, it enables same day funding of newly opened online accounts---nationwide. What a convenient service for Credit Union members and unlike wire transfers, it's FREE!
me1004   |     |   Comment #15
It is NOT completely free, depends on what you are doing. There are fees for some things, such as withdrawals of more than about $500 -- over that level, you must take the money in a check, and that costs $5.
NOT A FAN   |     |   Comment #2
NOT SO FAST,,,,,what's wrong with this picture,,,,you people are smart,,,figure it out.
sdrawkcab   |     |   Comment #10
Hmm.. let's see. Is it that the picture is probably a stock photo of a health club rather than a credit union? Or that there's no walkway or visible door on entrance to the building? Or that it looks like it's in the middle of a desert? Or that the wide-angle lens is distorting the perspective a bit? Or that the clock JUST happens to show "12:00 noon"? You're right. Perhaps it's really the secret headquarters for an invasion fleet from Planet Norom! (I hear their foreign transaction fees are quite high..)
La golf
La golf   |     |   Comment #3
It's disappointing, though understandable, that large credit unions navy federal and pended do not have shared branches.
What is the down side to a credit union to becoming shared branching?
-lost business, more admin work, less exclusive?
-do members ever get to vote on it? (After all, they own the credit union)
Thanks ken
hiehwohtpw   |     |   Comment #5
NavyFed have Shared Branch? They're still in the 1940s. If you make even a small cash deposit at a non-Navy CoOp ATM, it takes them over a week for them to "verify" it and let you finally have access to even one penny of it (compare that to Alliant, which gives you instant access to cash deposits done at other CoOp ATMs, up to I think $2,000). I'm a member of 7 credit unions (6 of them CoOp) and Navy is the only one whose system won't instantly let you know if you've made a deposit or withdrawal at another CU's CoOp ATM. Their system is terrible. There's no way they could handle other CUs accounts with their current system, and I don't ever expect them to change. I've been to Navy in person, and they can't even handle their own accounts without messing up or days of delays. I'm surprised Navy even does CoOp, though again, if you use a non-Navy CoOp to make deposits and such, it takes over a week for you to have access to it.

There are still some credit unions who aren't part of CoOp, even for ATMs (not many, but some) and that's a shame, as that's one of the big draws of a credit union. Though I'm sure many of us will join "Credit Union X" for a CD special, like anything else, do your homework, and for the CU that will become your primary one, pick the one that has good features (ie, CoOp, perhaps Shared Banking if that can help you) and good policies. The one I've picked is no where near me, but I can do everything online and at ATMs and Shared Branches.
me1004   |     |   Comment #16
LA Golf, I don’t think you are right about the downsides of the shared branch system to the CU.

Lost business? I don’t think so, this is additional business, they make money off people from other CUs using their branch, the other CU has to pay them for the transaction. AND many of us are willing to use a credit union — all of which have few branches around — because of the shared branch system — that is a lot of extra business for them.

And don’t forget, the shared branch system makes it easy for people who live in another town or another state to join your CU and use it.

And the shared branch system was set up specifically to compete for business with the big banks, which in the 1980s started to charge a fee for people from other financial institutions to use their ATM machines. The big banks had branches all over, and the fee they started was designed to crush the smaller competition because people in small institutions would be extremely limited in where they could get cash without paying a “penalty,” so would not open an account in the smaller places.

With the shared branch system making CUs competitive, banks are now complaining because CUs are getting too much of the business — they’re not losing business, they’re gaining a LOT of business.

Less exclusive? Exclusive of what? Even the biggest credit unions are too small and too few branches to compete on their own.

Like stock holders or mutual fund holders, members get to vote on who are the directors and on some other issues and questions. But no, it isn’t necessary to ask them to vote on every last decision, that’s why they choose the directors. Nonetheless, I am 100% certain the majority would vote for the shared branch system. A CU might claim joining the shared branch system would force them to give lower rates on savings, but unless they are giving up in the top range of CUs, that is a false assertion, they are already keeping rates lower than they need to and without the shared branch system.
anon555555555   |     |   Comment #4
For those who know what Regulation D is, and occasionally bump into its restrictions:

From my understanding, transactions done at shared branches don't count towards Regulation D. So if someone is constantly having to worry about exceeding the 6 transactions per month of Reg D on their accounts (especially for an account at a credit union where you don't live by, as in-person transactions don't count for Reg D) shared branch might be an answer. I do a lot of transfers between savings account via online at a large CU not near me and occasionally run into that I've reached the allowed 6-per-month. Didn't realize I could go to a local CU (where I'm also a member) and do the transfer there "in person" where Reg D wouldn't come into effect. Haven't done it yet but might try it next time.

One other thing to mention: some things aren't clear from the CO-OP locator. The website gives conflicting information. When you type in the NAME of the Credit Union, it will show if it's a member of just CO-OP ATMs, CO-OP Shared Branch, or Both. Yet on two of them that I tried, the "enter by name of credit union" method showed that the two CUs I was interested in was a member of both ATMs and SHARED BRANCH. However when I went to the "enter by zip code for location" part of the site (to search for Shared Branch), in both cases, though many other smaller CUs popped up, the two I was interested in (that the same site listed as accepting Shared Branch) did NOT pop up. So what gives? One example is Alliant. If you enter "Alliant" where you can search by CU name, it will show Alliant does both CoOp ATMs and Shared Branch. But when you go to Shared Branch Locator and enter a Zip Code of an Alliant Branch, nothing pops up for Alliant.
Cracker   |     |   Comment #6
I think you're confusing a couple of things here. If you click on the "Does my CU participate?" link it will tell you if their customers can use the shared branches and ATMs. If you are doing a lookup for a shared branch, it will show where you can perform shared transactions. Not all credit unions who offer shared branch access to their customers allow their own branches to be used for shared transactions. That's the difference. Some CUs will perform shared transactions at some of their branches and not at others. It all depends on their policies. Here's a good example with Genisys Credit Union. Notice that only certain branches are shared.

In my area (Michigan) we have what they call Credit Union Family Service Centers. These are shared branches which can be used by any Co-Op member credit union customer.
Lrdx   |     |   Comment #13
Beware that even if Reg D does not apply to in-person transactions, the bank/CU can still charge you after 6 transactions. I guess it's easier to say that there is a fee after 6 txn period, than checking which one was an eligible transaction.
me1004   |     |   Comment #17
Lrdx, not six transactions, it is six withdrawals.

I note, some bank and CUs apply that six-transaction limit to ATM withdrawals, and some don't. For instance, Alliant CU categorizes a withdrawal at any ATM, not just their own ATMs, the same as an in-branch withdrawal, they do not account against the Reg. D limit.
me1004   |     |   Comment #19
Alliant does not do shared branch. Wherever on the CoOp Website it says they do is wrong.
Cracker   |     |   Comment #7
I currently belong to two credit unions, neither of which have locations near me, and they are both members of the shared branch network. They are First Tech FCU and State Department FCU.

I use the local CU Family Service Centers to perform my transactions as needed.
not a fan
not a fan   |     |   Comment #8
someone has to pay for al this inter connectivty and added training of personnel.
moneydownthedrain   |     |   Comment #9
Sure, the money has to come from somewhere. So unlike banks, whose CEOs get ENORMOUS paychecks for ripping off their customers, Credit Union CEOs don't take obscene yearly salaries ($28 million for the head of Chase, $22.8 million for Wells Fargo), and Credit Unions are owned by its members, not by shareholders who look only at increasing fees and profits at the expense of the consumer. Which is why CUs can afford to offer free interconnected ATMs, shared branches, way higher savings rates and much lower loan rates.

But if you're "not a fan" that's okay, you have the freedom to keep being ripped off (and mocked at by those ripping you off. Keep doing what you're doing. Feel free to have your hard-earned money taken from you by your local megabank as their CEO "laughs all the way to the bank". They love customers like this.
moneydownthedrain   |     |   Comment #11
Forgot BofA.
BofA's CEO earned $20.2 Million in 2016.
Feel free to keep helping him out though!
It's your money, not mine
barry_NY   |     |   Comment #12
This is how small business competes against major companies. They out-source high end services to even the field. This is how online banking works. Ever notice familiar user interfaces between competing banks? You know that your local CU didn't hire a team of IT to program an online banking interface. They out-sourced it, putting them on an even playing field. Any now they're simply out-sourcing physical branches, again leveling the playing field with big banks.
me1004   |     |   Comment #18
not a fan, to some degree, it all balances out, as while they might be doing transactions for a member of another CU, some of their members are using other CUs instead of their’s. So there isn’t any significant impact on staffing levels.

But more directly, your CU has to pay a fee to the CU you use for the transaction, and that covers the cost. That fee is quite small, as the real cost to the CU for doing the transaction is quite nominal, under $1.00. The difference between the fee they pay the other CU and what it would cost them to do the transaction themselves is not especially significant — but makes a world if difference to getting more new CU members.
Anon   |     |   Comment #14
There is one right by me, not a member though I used it to open / fund just about everyone I found on this site. Very lucky especially when special offers did not last and the funds were needed ASAP
RJM   |     |   Comment #20
Credit unions in my area are all part of some shared thing. BUT, they wont take care of you unless you come inside. So no drive thru transactions whatsoever unless you are a member of that specific credit union. Plus, they cant look up your account number so you need to know it.

But its a nice feature nevertheless.

The one I go to is the one closest to my house. I'm not a member because they don't have any deals but for depositing cash, its a great deal.

I think, one time, I went in for money and they charged me a small fee even though I was accessing my own money. I needed $250 and I think they charged me $2.50. Hated paying it but it would have taken 20 minutes to drive to the other credit union & back and I was pressed for time.
Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward   |     |   Comment #21
Wow! the participating credit union search tool is weak; useless for duplicate name results. Is there a better tool than this?:
BiC   |     |   Comment #22
What is the benefit of shared branching through a machine? How is this different from an ATM?

The search filter to remove these "automated" shared branch location from search results does not work. Search results that are self-service are still shown. :(
RJM   |     |   Comment #23
I'm not aware of any banking machines that are not ATMs but the benefit might be the ability to deposit a check. Some people, like me, do not have smart phones. I have a scanner but finding what I scanned is above my level of competence.

I need to send a POD form to a credit union but I cant use a shared network branch for that. Probably going to have to use a stamp or figure out how to find what I scan.
Sylvia   |     |   Comment #24
BiC, is your issue the search tool or incorrect data? Under advanced search, did you select “shared branch” and “exclude self service only locations”? In any event, there’s also the option to call for live personal assistance, 888-837-6500. My preference is to use location tools on site of credit union for which I’m seeking service.

RJM, you should be able to search device by keyword or format (e.g., PDF), in addition to file name of scan.
RJM   |     |   Comment #25
The POD is simply too small to use. I printed a blank one out and its impossible to fill it out unless I buy a typewriter. I wadded it up & threw it away. The NASA one.

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