Last year, First Trust Credit Union celebrated its 60th birthday. First Trust began in La Porte with a group of teachers and later opened their branches in Michigan City, Valparaiso, and Wheatfield. While First Trust has been providing quality service to its members for over 60 years, many people are still unfamiliar with what it is exactly that a credit union does.
“Credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperatives,” said Marketing Director Dorene Martinson. “Our mission is to serve our members and bring our profits back to our members in way of lower or no fees, better rates on loans, and things of this nature. One of the main reasons credit unions are able to do this is simply because at the top of our organizational chart is a volunteer board of directors.”
Since these cooperatives are led by a volunteer board of directors, they do not need to strive to make a profit to pay shareholders, who are the people at the top of a bank’s organizational chart. As Martinson said, this is the main contributing factor to how they are able to further the benefits offered to members.
First Trust in particular is a credit union that is able to offer many additional advantages to members, in part because it is a full-service financial institution which allows them to do essentially everything a bank can do. All of First Trust’s current and convenient electronic services give members access to their accounts 24/7. Their online banking program also includes access to their FREE mobile app, which includes up-to-date features such as logging-in with voice, face, fingerprint, or PIN recognition, mobile check deposit, text banking, debit card lock and unlock, and digital wallets. As an added bonus, members can utilize a shared branching network nation-wide, which includes the ability for members to utilize over 5,000 other credit union branches, and over 30,000 ATMs within the network, as if they were at their own First Trust branch.
All of First Trust’s accounts are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for the standard $250,000, but because of its commitment to its members, First Trust takes it a step further. All accounts at First Trust receive an additional $250,000, bringing that insurance to a total of up to $500,000.
It also has club accounts for different types of age groups. One club account that Martinson said is important to First Trust is its Tree House Kids Club. This club is open to members from zero to 12 years old.
“It’s a really fun club that gives kids incentives for saving money, which they really enjoy,” Martinson said. “They get to pick one prize out of the treasure chest every time they make a $5 deposit, they receive a birthday postcard in the mail every year that is redeemable for a $5 gift card for Dairy Queen or McDonald’s, and they receive a piggy bank when they open their accounts and a quarter saver card that helps them save quarters that equal $5 to help them achieve their treasure chest prizes. They can also pick a goal for something to save for and work toward. This teaches kids from a young age to start thinking about their money and how to become efficient at saving their money.”
The Golden Apple Club is for members 55 years and older, which provides convenient perks for many of First Trust’s long-time members. Some of the credit union’s other offerings include the Rainy Day Account, Spare Change Account, Christmas Club, and Vacation Club.
“What makes credit unions unique is their philosophy of ‘People Helping People’ and also giving back to the community,” Martinson said. “We provide that hometown feel. We know our members, and we know them well. Many of them have been with us for many years. We know their life stories, and we know their needs. That really helps us zone-in on possible financial needs they have so we can assist them with the products and services they might need at any given time. We also partner with charities within each of our branch locations, and we fundraise year-round to give back to our communities.”
To become a member at First Trust Credit Union, one must simply live or work within one of the counties it serves: La Porte County, Porter County, Jasper County, Newton County, or Pulaski County. One can also join if they have a family member who is a current member.
For more information about First Trust Credit Union, visit https://www.firsttrustcu.com/.