Our credit union branches may no longer be right in your back yard, but, that doesn’t mean it has to be an inconvenience. With the many modern day products and services currently offered, you practically have a credit union branch in the palm of your hand or at the very least in your home office.
I have been a member of Constellation FCU for almost 20 years and of that time, approximately 10 years were spent living at least 1000 miles away from the nearest Constellation FCU branch. At one point we lived “across the pond”, in Europe. During those 10+ years, we always kept Constellation FCU as our main financial institution. We stayed with Constellation because, in our travels, we never found another financial institution that went out of its way to put the members first, as Constellation does. We love the low fees and good rates offered at this credit union.
So many times, when I’m closing an account I hear the standard phrase… “I hate to leave, but there just aren’t any branches close to me anymore.” Well, speaking from a vast amount of experience, you don’t need to be close to a branch anymore! HOW? I’m glad you asked. Here are my tips for “banking from a distance.”
- Have your net paycheck direct deposited here, or at least most of it. This way, you won’t need to worry about depositing pay checks, moving money, or writing checks from an outside bank, to cover loans or checks here. Although, we have services to help you with that now, but, I’m getting ahead of myself. More on that later.
- Get a Visa Checkcard. I don’t think we could have done it without a Checkcard. It is a valuable tool! In fact, I’m not sure what we did before we had one! This is a must if you are going to be banking from a distance. The Checkcard not only enables you to make purchases, but also withdraws. Deposits are also possible, if you can find an ATM that is in the Credit Union network, and also accepts deposits. Plus, Constellation FCU is the only place I’ve found that pays a 1% rebate for using their card!
- Make sure you are signed up and know how to use online banking. This was another valuable tool for us. When we were overseas, we always knew the credit union was quite literally “at our fingertips.” We always knew our balances and which checks cleared on what day. If we needed to transfer money, at 2 o’clock in the morning, we could!
- Don’t forget about Touch Tone 24. In the event that you are unable to connect to online banking, perhaps the internet is down, or you get locked out, Touch Tone 24 is an option. With our modern day conveniences, we often forget about this as an alternative. You can check balances, transfer money or even activate your credit card or Check card.
- Take advantage of the Credit Union Shared Branch network. Check scanning and smart phone technology weren’t around yet, so, when we did need to deposit checks, we either mailed it, or found a Shared Branch in which to deposit our check. For members who are leery of using mobile banking or scanning software, Shared Branches are the next best thing to going to a Constellation FCU branch. A Shared Branch is a credit union who offers services to members of any credit union in its network. There, you can access your own credit union account, do deposits, withdraws, cashier’s checks, and more. There are 1000’s nationwide. You could be as far away as Alaska or Hawaii, and still access your account.
- Know where the “NO FEE” ATM’s are located near you. No matter where we lived, we always found at least one credit union that did not charge a fee or was in our network. Constellation FCU belongs to a network of 1000’s of ATM’s across the country, including Alaska and Hawaii. So, chances are there is a fee-free ATM in a city near you.
Well, those are the very basic ways of “banking from a distance.” Things are even easier now, with the advances in technology. Here’s what I mean:
- Mobile Banking: It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this service. It is so easy and convenient. (and safe!) With mobile banking you have the credit union in your hands. Transfer money, check balances or transactions and even deposit checks. Just go to the app store on your smart phone. Search for “Constellation Federal Credit Union” and download our app. You will log on using your online banking user name and password. Give it a try!
- Text Message Banking: Another favorite of mine, this service can be a life saver. The system texts you when large transactions clear your account, or when your balance falls below a certain amount. You can also send a text to the system and have money transferred from one account to another (IE: savings to checking) or check balances. This is a great alternative for people who have cell phones, but not smart phones.
- My Deposit: Through this service, you can deposit checks at home using your scanner. Simply log into your account, select “Check Deposit” from the “additional services” drop down box and follow the directions.
- Transporter: You need to deposit money into your credit union account to cover a check you wrote. What do you do? In the past you could do 1 of 2 things: write a check from another bank or credit union, then go to a branch to deposit the money or do a wire transfer. We now offer a modern day alternative, a money moving service called Transporter. Through your online account, you can transfer money between your Constellation FCU account and any other account that is in your name. Simply select the “transporter” link under the “move money” drop down box to sign up. There is a $2.50 fee for transfers out of your Constellation account.
- Bill Payer: Are you retired and traveling a lot? Or maybe you just want to make life as stress free as possible. With our bill payer service, you can pay your bills from anywhere. Simply select the bill payer tab through your online account for more details or to sign up.
To find out more information about any of these products and services, contact any of our Member Service Representatives at email@example.com for more details, or go to our web page at www.constellationfcu.org.
As for me, as happy as I am to be near a Constellation FCU branch once again, for the convenience it offers, I know that where ever I am in the world, the credit union will be right there with me.