Looking for a good credit union in Portland Oregon
February 28, 2011 3:00 PM   Subscribe

We've recently moved to Portland Oregon and are looking to ditch our bank for a credit union. There seems to be a good few out there and are looking for recommendations. Who's worth going to check out in further detail?
posted by TheDonF to Work & Money (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Additionally, are there any disadvantages to a credit union? There's lots of positives written about them but not very much negative (unless we're missing something). Thanks!
posted by TheDonF at 3:18 PM on February 28, 2011


I love, love, love, like evangelically love First Tech Credit Union; their staff is great, caring, competent, and actually funny, and they're never too busy. After I had been to my branch three times, one teller already knew my name and had some in-jokes with me. Moreover, they're very communicative about changes, votes, rates, etc. and actively solicit feedback from their membership.

My regret about First Tech, however, is that their membership requirements are relatively limiting, and virtually none of the people to whom I evangelize are qualified to join because of that. This may also apply to you, but I do recommend looking into it. They're great.
posted by verbyournouns at 3:18 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use and love First Tech, though they're really only convenient in a brick-and-mortar way if you live on the west side, and their membership criteria aren't expansive.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:20 PM on February 28, 2011


Also, I am extremely broke and as such am not particularly financially savvy, so please do bear in mind that my enthusiastic endorsement of First Tech isn't based as much on fiscal factors, but rather the intangibles that make me appreciate being a member of a community-based organization.
posted by verbyournouns at 3:20 PM on February 28, 2011


Shoulda previewed. What verbyournouns said.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:21 PM on February 28, 2011


Here is a page with a number of them, including how many members each has. YMMV, as First Tech is not listed.
posted by Danf at 3:24 PM on February 28, 2011


Additionally, are there any disadvantages to a credit union? There's lots of positives written about them but not very much negative (unless we're missing something). Thanks!

The main disadvantage is that their rates suck. I stick with mine mostly through inertia, but their rates for things like car loans and mortgages are a joke. Not just uncompetitive, not even in the same galaxy. They pay the same tiny interest as any commercial bank.

I'm there because they used to be located on the military-ish base where I worked. When we closed they moved and found an office across the street from our new location. It's convenient. My 'membership' seems to mean very little. They refused to let me deposit a check that was made out to both my wife and myself because she was not present. Her bank didn't bat an eye. YMMV.
posted by fixedgear at 3:31 PM on February 28, 2011


I recently ditched an unnamed Large Faceless Bank and switched to OnPoint (formerly Portland Teachers Credit Union). So far, so good! As far as I know, all residents of Multnomah county are eligible.
posted by hollisimo at 3:32 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


We bank (Mortgage, savings, two checking accounts) with Unitus, and love them. Not a lot of branches, but easy access to lots of ATM's; really helpful, friendly staff - and phone service from human beings - and just generally a good place to park your money. Membership is based on where you live.
posted by pdb at 3:33 PM on February 28, 2011


I know a lot of people who use OnPoint, which like hollisimo said was formerly the Teachers' Credit Union, and love it. There are enough locations/atms to make it convenient and the service, etc., by reputation, is excellent.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:37 PM on February 28, 2011


The main disadvantage is that their rates suck.

Just as with banks, this is not universally true. My credit union (which is not in Oregon, otherwise I'd recommend it) has excellent rates on car loans and savings accounts, and decent rates on CDs.
posted by zsazsa at 3:38 PM on February 28, 2011


The main disadvantage is that their rates suck. I stick with mine mostly through inertia, but their rates for things like car loans and mortgages are a joke. Not just uncompetitive, not even in the same galaxy. They pay the same tiny interest as any commercial bank.

Dude, my credit card with First Tech has a 6% interest rate. I've never seen that at a commercial bank.

And I've had car loans with credit unions over the years because I could always get a better deal there than with a major bank.

In my experience, credit unions have better rates than commercial banks, as long as you shop around like you should when applying for any kind of loan anyway. Rates have definitely not been a drawback that I've ever experienced at a credit union.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:39 PM on February 28, 2011


The main disadvantage is that their rates suck. I stick with mine mostly through inertia, but their rates for things like car loans and mortgages are a joke. Not just uncompetitive, not even in the same galaxy. They pay the same tiny interest as any commercial bank.

This isn't necessarily true. Some CUs have excellent loan rates.

Another good thing to know, many credit unions take part in a national shared branching network (CUSC). For example, I still have an account with a CU in Guam, which I use via Unitus.

The only pitfall when I looked for a CU a few years ago was that they all had poor online banking/bill pay options. Not sure if that's changed.
posted by momus_window at 3:40 PM on February 28, 2011


To momus_window's point: Unitus' online banking is super easy to set up and use, and way more flexible than the one at Big Monolith Bank where I used to bank.
posted by pdb at 3:46 PM on February 28, 2011


@verbyournouns + @rabbitrabbit Thanks. It looks like First Tech might be an option as I'm a contractor and am getting work through one of their sponsor companies. Not sure what that means for my wife, though.

@pdb what browser do you use? The "based on where you live" link you posted above goes to a site which only works on IE6+. We're a Mac–only household, so using that isn't an option.
posted by TheDonF at 3:51 PM on February 28, 2011


Sorry about that - I'm currently using Firefox on Windows XP, but at home I use both Chrome and FF on my iMac and have never had a problem with Unitus' website.

Basically, if you live in any Portland-area county, you're eligible for Unitus membership/.
posted by pdb at 3:54 PM on February 28, 2011


I'd avoid OnPoint. Much more like a bank (atmosphere, attitude, customer service, fees, etc.) than other credit unions I've dealt with.
The one I hear the most good about in the Portland-Metro area is Unitus.
posted by nickthetourist at 3:57 PM on February 28, 2011


First Tech has a really solid website (that works really well on my Macbook), just to share. And I think your wife would qualify under the "immediate family" clause. (Potentially) welcome to the credit union!
posted by verbyournouns at 3:58 PM on February 28, 2011


My wife is quite happy with Unitus. I'm with Columbia Credit Union, but that's mainly because they have a physical location near where I work.

Keep in mind that (barring nostalgia), the physical location of your credit union doesn't matter. You can make fee-free deposits & withdrawals into any ATM on the CO-OP network, so as long as either of you have an affiliated credit union ATM near you, you're as near to a branch as matters.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:37 PM on February 28, 2011


OnPoint works well enough for me, but I don't use it for much more than a place to hold my money, and one automated monthly bill. I haven't had to actually contact them about anything in years, so I don't know about customer service and such.

Their online banking is really rudimentary, though.
posted by maqsarian at 4:45 PM on February 28, 2011


maqsarian: Their online banking is really rudimentary, though.

That was the first thing that really annoyed me.
The thing that really pissed me off was when they charged me $20 (or was it $30?) for an overdraft on my checking account despite the fact that I had plenty of $$$ to cover any checks in my savings.
And they didn't even bother to cover the one check that caused the overdraft.

My other credit union would have charged me less than $2 and made sure the check was covered.
posted by nickthetourist at 5:36 PM on February 28, 2011


I've been happy with Advantis.
posted by Fortnight Bender at 5:40 PM on February 28, 2011


Rivermark kicks ass, and their online banking is the first ever to not make me go into fits of rage whenever i use it.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:12 PM on February 28, 2011


I use and love First Tech. If you're eligible, your wife should be, too.

I've also looked into Advantis in the past and they looked pretty good to me.
posted by treblemaker at 9:21 PM on February 28, 2011


First Tech has a really solid website
Unless you want functionality like being able to schedule your Visa payments in advance. And for some reason, their system "upgrade" caused Visa payments to take over 24 hours to apply to the account, not instantly. There is also lots of weird UI in their system that overall makes it look unpolished and transferring funds around is always finicky. However I still use First tech and do not plan to switch due to their crappy web banking UI.

I do not recommend the Visa card, though. They do not have 24x7 support, so if they cut off your Visa card (as they did mine when some account data was compromised), you are SOL until Monday morning at business hours. Always make sure you have another form of payment. The redeeming feature of the card is that the interest rate is great.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:05 PM on February 28, 2011


Based on your profile it looks like you're in Old Town Chinatown. I can't recommend NW Resource Federal Credit Union enough. They're a couple blocks away (2nd & Everett) and offer pretty good rates from the info I've seen. I'm not a customer due to a variety of reasons I need to stay at Large National but I have worked with their staff in neighborhood things (I work nearby). They are very involved in making your neighborhood better and their staff is top notch.

On a semi unrelated note, I'd love to welcome you to Portland with a couple of tickets to the Chinese garden. Memail me and I'll set it up.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 10:46 PM on February 28, 2011


@..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. I just bunged Portland Oregon in my profile rather than anything more accurate. I've changed it a little now. We're in the NE, far too close to Voodoo Doughnut Too for my terrible willpower.

Memail on the way. Thank you so much, that's really generous.
posted by TheDonF at 12:13 PM on March 1, 2011


If you are close to Voodoo Too the First Tech branch is pretty close too -- its on 7th & Holiday close by the Lloyd Center. It's also worth knowing that the Co-op ATM network also extends to 7-Eleven, which makes it even more handy.
posted by tallus at 10:57 PM on March 10, 2011


We checked out First Tech and Unitus. There didn't seem to be too much between them when it came to things like interest rates on checking accounts and other services we're interested. In the end we based our decision on the service we got when we went into the branches to talk about setting up an account. At First Tech we walked in and spent about five minutes waiting for a member of staff to even look at us. The cashiers were busy and the three people working at their desks within a few feet from us didn't acknowledge us even when I moved into a "I don't feel comfortable standing next to this person's desk" position. I suspect it was Specklet saying "if someone doesn't talk to us in the next 30 seconds, we're leaving" that prompted someone to look up. We then had to sit in a waiting area for five minutes whilst the employee finished typing something. Clearly dealing with people who are here to give you money is less important than dealing with something for someone that isn't there. Once we actually got to talk to the person, she was friendly and helpful but, I felt, somehow lacking. I'm not sure why, though.

At Unitus, it was completely different. We turned up to the branch, the door was opened by a girl scout (there was a stand inside where they were selling cookies), we were greeted by smiling receptionist who took our names and showed us where the coffee machine and found someone for us to talk to. Within less time than it took to make a vending machine coffee we were met by a smiling man who took us to a private area where he answered all our questions. The place had a good atmosphere, the staff were friendly and efficient, and we left feeling positive about Unitus. So that's whom we went with.
posted by TheDonF at 6:38 PM on March 19, 2011


Oh, other stuff: First Tech's website sucks on an iPhone: it automatically assumes I want to access my accounts rather than doing something crazy like trying to find a branch address. Unitus have an iPhone app which gives location-based information on the nearest fee-free ATMs, money transfers, account access, and more.
posted by TheDonF at 6:43 PM on March 19, 2011


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