About 60 million people live in rural communities throughout the country. Rural dwellers’ inconvenient distance from financial hubs and their unique financial needs mean they often look for specialized support.
As such, there are a number of savvy credit unions that specifically serve the needs of this large population. And, they serve them better than standardized banks or other financial institutions that don’t have a specialized rural focus.
The employees of rural and agricultural credit unions understand these lifestyles and communities on a firsthand basis, so they can provide more personalized service to the people who live in such areas.
These CUs offer such high-quality services and specialized financial products given their expertise in rural communities and their financial needs. Plus, they typically and wisely partner with a seasoned credit union service organization (CUSO), such as Extensia Financial. Extensia has decades of experience partnering with credit unions across the country to help diversify their lending portfolios and better serve their members.
Here our financial experts have compiled the top credit unions in the United States that serve rural and agricultural communities.
History of Credit Unions
Before we review some of the top rural and agricultural credit unions of today, it’s worth highlighting the history of credit unions altogether.
The first credit union was established in 1864 by Friedrich Raiffeisen, the mayor of a small German village. He set out to create a rural cooperative by compiling capital that he could distribute as loans to those in need of funds.
Raiffeisen largely created his innovative financial institution to aid poor farmers in the region due to his strong belief that credit unions would be a conduit for social and community change. As we know, he was right.
The spirit of community-first banking solutions still rings true across the credit union industry today. The following list of credit unions continues to advance their rural and agricultural members with many of the same values on which Raiffeisen founded the first-ever CU.
1. Agriculture Federal Credit Union
Based in Washington, D.C., and serving members across the country since 1934, Agriculture Federal Credit Union (AgFed) aims to provide members with financial services of the highest quality.
People are eligible for membership if they are in the D.C. area or are part of one of the Select Employee Groups (SEGs), which includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Crop Protection Association, the Agricultural Cooperative Development International and dozens of others.
AgFed offers auto loans, credit cards, home equity loans, checking accounts and more to help professionals in the agricultural field meet their financial goals.
2. Rural Cooperatives Credit Union
The Rural Cooperatives Credit Union was founded in 1964 and aims to assist members in realizing their personal financial success through competitive and value-oriented products and services.
They pride themselves in the way they give back to their members and rural communities while still being a full-service financial institution. Their main products include low-rate loans and convenient checking accounts that have no monthly maintenance fees and free in-network ATM withdrawals.
To become a member of the Rural Cooperatives Credit Union, you must be an employee of or family member of an employee who works for Electric Cooperatives in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee or be a member of a number of other energy and utility-based professions in these states.
3. Heartland Credit Union
Heartland Credit Union is based in southwest Wisconsin and serves members primarily across rural Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. Heartland is focused on preserving rural America and supporting its customers in the agricultural industry through cost-effective financial services.
The credit union opened in 1936 and, aside from personal and business banking solutions, they also offer agricultural financial products, including personal farm property, real estate, operating lines of credit and FSA-guaranteed loans to help farmers in their area.
About Extensia Financial
Established in 1998 and headquartered in Simi Valley, CA, Extensia Financial is one of the most seasoned credit union service organizations (CUSO) focused on commercial lending. For decades, we have partnered with credit unions across the country to offer competitive and collaborative loans. We also uniquely support and guide our partners through the entire lifecycle of our loans. Extensia Financial is a proud member of the AVANA Family of Companies.