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Community First may have added the word ‘bank’ to its name, but says it’s never going to ‘act like a bank’. What does that mean? You’ll get personalised service, a say in the decisions, and low rates because credit unions have members, not shareholders. Let’s look at how Community First Bank works.
Community First has won the right to call itself ‘bank’, but it’s still a faithfully member-owned union underneath. That means when you become a customer of Community First Bank, you’ll be able to have a say in how things are run.
But is Community First right for you? Let's take a look at what it means to bank with a member-owned financial provider – and what Community First has to offer in the way of credit cards. You never know, it might just be time to make that jump from the big banks; to something a little bit different.
A member-owned financial provider is owned by the people who use its financial products. When you use a product of a credit union (a credit card or loan, for example), you become a member of the union and can help make decisions on the direction of the business.
Banks with shareholders, on the other hand, are required to make large profits and pay out dividends - not to its customers, but to its shareholders. An institution such as Community First is simply run for the benefit of its members. That means it can often offer lower rates and fees on products such as credit cards and loans.
Member-owned institutions also pride themselves on offering superior service to their members – something many members feel they cannot get from bigger, faceless banks. Let's explore the credit union differences so you can get the bigger picture,
Community First is an Authorised Deposit-taking Institution (ADI). That means it is regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) under the Banking Act, and must meet the same high standards as banks. Just like people who use banks, Community First members are eligible for the Australian Government Deposit Guarantee.
Yep, it must be doing something right. In terms of service, Community First says it continues to retain an overall member satisfaction level of 85%. Many of the banks, on the other hand, regularly receive satisfaction ratings from their customers in the range of 60-70%.
Community First also offers plenty of convenient ways to bank. Users have access to cash from over 10,000 ATMs across Australia that are direct charge free.
The organisation has several financial services stores across Sydney and the Central Coast. It has a dedicated call centre, and a range of convenient ways to bank, including mobile banking, internet banking and telephone banking.
According to a study by independent financial services research group, Canstar, members of Community First are better off than customers of the Big Four banks. The study showed that compared to the Big Four, Community First provided an added value of $2.8 million to its members on a range of benchmarks based on rate, fees and transactions.
Community First also happens to be an award winner. Over the years, its home loans, personal loans and savings products have been recognised by many industry awards. These include awards from Money Magazine's Best of the Best, Your Mortgage Magazine and Financial Review Smart Investor Blue Ribbon Awards.
Sound like something you want to be part of? Check out Community First’s range of credit cards to find the one that works best for you. Perhaps it’s the Community First Low Rate Visa Card? Or maybe it’s the Community First Low Rate Pink Visa Credit Card? Take a closer look to find out if credit union banking is right for you.
Member-owned banks can offer low rates simply because they don’t have to raise enormous amounts of money to pay out shareholders (which they would normally do via high interest rates and high annual fees). So now the question is, why should you choose a low rate credit card?
A low rate credit card can suit many different types of credit cardholders. First up, there are those who simply want a simple credit card. Because low rate credit cards tend to be less profitable for credit card providers, they usually offer fewer features.
Other cards with higher interest rates and higher fees can be packed with features. From enticing introductory offers and rewards programs, to ‘complimentary’ insurances and personal concierge service, these cards can have loads of tempting extras.
While some low rate credit cards can offer features and extras, most are pretty simple. And that suits some cardholders. They either don’t want or don’t need those extras. They don’t want to have to pay more for them, or they don’t want to be complicated by them.
Other cardholders just want to save money by using a low rate credit card. Obviously, a balance left unpaid on a credit card with a purchase rate of 20% p.a. is going to attract much more interest than a low rate card with a purchase rate of 10% p.a.
Some cardholders have a revolving balance – one that is never paid off fully at the end of each month. Other cardholders simply have a large balance that they are trying to pay off. For them, the amount of interest they are paying on that balance is crucial.
By choosing a card with a low purchase rate, they can save a substantial amount in interest. This can help them to pay off more of their debt, while paying less in interest overall.
In addition to being low rate cards, all three cards also charge low annual fees. Again, cards with low – or even no – annual fees attract a certain type of cardholder.
No or low annual fee cards tend to be no frills. The features on offer usually comes down to how much money the card provider is getting back from its cardholders. So, low annual fees generally means low features. For some cardholders, this is perfect. They don’t want loads of features they don’t need or would never use.
For other cardholders, it’s about saving money. Paying low or no annual fee allows them to free up some extra cash to be spent elsewhere. It’s that simple. This can also make these cards attractive to people who rarely use their credit cards. After all, anyone who keeps their credit card for emergencies only wouldn’t want to be spending heaps in annual fees.
Want to give back with your credit card? With a charity credit card, you can. Both the Community First Low Rate Pink Visa Credit Card and the Community First Low Rate Blue Credit Card serve the same purpose.
As the name suggests, the Community First Low Rate Pink Visa Credit Card is set up to benefit the McGrath Foundation. Each year, each cardholder automatically donates half of their annual fee to the Foundation. So, what does the McGrath Foundation do?
The McGrath Foundation is dedicated to helping those with breast cancer – and their families. The Foundation raises money to place McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities across Australia – while also working to raise awareness in young people. So, if you’re looking to give to a good cause, this could be it.
Meanwhile, the Community First Low Rate Blue Credit Card helps raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia by donating half of the annual fee to the foundation.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia is committed to lessening the impact of prostate cancer on Australian men, their partners and families through funding and promoting research on prostate cancer, implementing awareness in the Australian Community and helping those affected with the disease. The foundation raises money by relying on donations from the individuals and partnerships so if you’re looking to give a little back to your community, this is a perfect opportunity.
Now we know more about the McGrath Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, let’s look at the cards. Both cards are pretty straightforward. They have the same low purchase rate, cash advance rate and balance transfer rate. This not only helps you to save money, but it can also make the card easier to understand.
The cards’ annual fee is low too, helping you save money – while also giving back to those who need it. You can also enjoy up to 55 days interest free on purchases, as long as you pay your balance in full for each statement period.
Just like cards from the big banks, these cards offer easy access to your account using internet banking and their smartphone app. The cards also offer the same levels of security you’d expect from a bank. This includes smart chip protection, Visa Zero Liability and Verified by Visa for online purchases. Credit limits range from $500 to $15,000.
Now for the lowdown on the Community First Low Rate Visa Card. This card has pretty much that same set-up as the two charity credit cards. Except for the fact that it doesn’t offer an automatic donation to charity organizations.
It has the same low purchase rate, cash advance rate and balance transfer rate. It has a low annual fee. It offers up to 55 days interest free on purchases, as long as you pay off your balance on the due date.
It provides the same easy access to your account, the same levels of security, and the same credit limits. While the other two cards' names suggest their colours, this one comes in colour black.
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