Moving Money: Credit Union Strike Out!


Ok, so for those following along, I had decided to move my money because Wells Fargo, among other banks, has rolled out a ridiculous $3/month fee for the “privilege” of using our debit cards. It’s crap. I told you I would go out & do it, and you would get to come along.

We found out first that Salal Credit Union, in my opinion, engages in false advertising. They don’t put on their website that you have to have a credit rating of 600 or above to open an account with them. Since my credit rating is around the 550s, I lost out there.

My next stop was Boeing Employees Credit Union. Despite their name, they are open to anyone in Washington. I decided to try there because my buddy Chris has an account. He says they have excellent customer service. Of course the first thing I asked was if you needed a credit rating of 600 or more to open with them. She said no. First hurdle cleared!

BECU only requires a credit rating of 300 or higher. But here’s where I got stung. They run a Chexsystems check as well, and my history wasn’t clean. Curses, foiled again!! The nice lady I talked to there recommended at the very least handling the problem on Chexsystems (which I have to, since they are a source for pretty much every financial institution), waiting 30 days, and then trying again.


Actually, growl and WTH??

You know, there’s a part of me that is really starting to want to stay with Wells Fargo, super evil money stealing be damned. There’s one reason: I’ve been contrasting this journey through the credit union universe with getting my current bank account open. When the Wells Fargo banker helped me, I was homeless, working day labor on the verge of getting a better job, and had 78 cents in my pocket. I needed an account because I needed somewhere for my tax refund check to come in. Plus, I was getting tired of seeing a big chunk of what little I made go to the payday loan and check cashing people.

I remember that day. I was exhausted, I looked like hell, had way lower credit than I do now, and was on the verge of tears because I just needed ONE thing to go right that week. You know those weeks. When you can tell your life is about to change for the better, if you can just get through this bit right now.

And I did, with their help. The banker and branch manager were literally excited to pull someone out of the payday/check cashing sector and get me a real account. They did some magic with the paperwork, and with 78 cents in checking, I was all set. The manager even had my back a month later when an employee I had never seen before got in my space. This employee started questioning me about if I really had a wells fargo account & had a reason for being at their branch. I didn’t even have to bring it to the manager’s attention. He saw it from across the room & came over and intervened.

So here I sit two years later. I want to move my money because, as an entity, I don’t feel like I can trust wells fargo corporate to not suck me dry of every cent they can get away with. But the more I get the feeling that I’m not quite “clean enough” to be a member of a credit union, the more part of me is glad that my local Wells Fargo branch understands what it means to take a chance on people and help give them a lift up.

Bottom line is I am staying for awhile while I clean up my credit. Which I have to do anyway if I ever want a decent rate on anything. Here’s an article that shows you, in dollars, the extra money lower credit forces you to pay for things.

If you want to move your money and have the capability to do it, I would recommend BECU. They seem to have a lower threshold, which tells me they can serve a lot more people coming back from financial disaster. Plus, where they don’t have branches, they have agreements with other credit unions to let customers do their stuff with them. BECU also seems a lot more flexible financially with loans and helping people figure out customized ways to handle their money in the short and long term.

And FYI, if you use a QUEST card for state cash. I pulled some cash out at BECU’s ATM and they did not charge me the $3 service fee that everywhere else does. Something for those who need to know.

This concludes my credit union quest. I learned a good deal of stuff, and am staying at wells fargo for awhile longer. My next quest is cleaning up my credit report, and you all are, of course, invited along for that as well.