Affinity Credit Union Review
We've spent a bit of time looking at credit unions in the past, but you still may be wondering exactly how they differ from a regular bank. The answer to that question, at least from the everyday consumer's standpoint, is "not much." There are, however, a couple of key differences that are worth pointing.
First, credit unions are owned by their members. While traditional banks are organized like a typical corporation-with officers, directors, and stockholders who own the company-each member of a credit union takes an ownership stake in the union. This means the credit union's profits are ultimately returned to the members, similarly to how traditional banks and other corporations reward their stockholders with dividend payments when the company has a successful year.
Second, as we've briefly mentioned before, credit unions are community-oriented financial institutions, the primary goal of which is to help their members succeed financially. Of course, traditional banks seek to serve the customers and provide a service to their community, as well. But credit unions differ in that membership in a credit union is typically limited to particular classes of consumers. For example, there are credit unions that serve persons engaged in particular trades or professions, credit unions that serve only retirees of a particular company, and credit unions that serve only members of a particular geographic area. Because membership in a credit union is limited to particular classes of individuals and businesses, they are able to tailor their services to more personally serve the needs of their members.
But despite these organizational differences, credit unions still provide financial services to their customers that closely resemble the services offered by traditional banks.
Today, we're going to take a look at Affinity Credit Union, so keep reading to learn about the services this union has to offer.
About Affinity Credit Union
Affinity Credit Union was founded in Saskatchewan. Divided into 9 districts throughout the province, Affinity is dedicated to serving only Saskatchewan residents. Affinity is the second-largest credit union in Saskatchewan. Affinity supports over 120,000 members and manages nearly $6 billion in assets, placing it among the top 10 largest credit unions in Canada based on the volume of assets under its control and the size of its membership.
Reaffirming its commitment to its members, Affinity is one of only three Canadian credit unions to claim membership in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. This organization is a global network of independent financial institutions that are dedicated to using financial tools to foster meaningful and sustainable social, economic, and environmental development. Membership of the GABV currently consists of 62 financial institutions located in Asia, Africa, Australia, Latin America, North America and Europe. Its members collectively serve 67 million customers and manage over $200 million USD in assets. The GABV ultimately seeks "to ensure that banking is a healthy and productive system of society and develop a positive, viable alternative to the current banking system."
Affinity is also a member of the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Saskatchewan. Similar to other deposit insurance corporations, the CUDGC guarantees the deposits of all members of Affinity and its other member unions. This means that if the union fails, its members will still receive back any funds they had deposited with the union. But differently from many other deposit insurance corporations, the CUDGC guarantees the full amount of every deposit, regardless of size. So, while many deposit insurers guarantee deposits only up to a certain amount, the CUDGC guarantees the entire amount any deposit placed in a chequing or savings account, term deposit instrument, or other type of account at the institution. What is more, the CUDGC even insures accrued interest on those accounts. Affinity Credit Union is proud to leverage its membership in the CUDGC to provide its members ultimate peace of mind with respect to their deposits.
Personal financial services
Affinity Credit Union offers its members a full suite of financial services. Starting with providing access to a network of over 1,800 ATMs, Affinity members can travel with confidence knowing they can access funds deposited with Affinity from all across Canada without ever needing to pay an ATM surcharge.
Personal chequing accounts
Affinity offers a variety of personal chequing accounts. Each one is designed for a particular class of members, meaning regardless of your financial circumstances, Affinity has a chequing account for you.
- Unlimited chequing
For $12 per month, Affinity offers an unlimited chequing account, which allows members to make an unlimited number of monthly transactions without needing to worry about incurring over-limit charges. Additionally, Affinity offers a Member Loyalty program, which gives members the opportunity to earn up to a 75% rebate on the monthly fee.
- Pay as you go
Affinity next offers a pay as you go option, which allows members to pay for only the transactions that they make. Because this account carries no monthly fee, it is perfect for members who use their chequing account only a few times per month.
Similarly to the pay as you go option, Affinity offers a Value chequing account, which allows members to make up to 12 transactions per month for just $4 per account.
- Youth chequing
Affinity also offers a Youth chequing account, which closely resembles its Unlimited account, except that it's free to members 20 years of age and younger. The Youth account allows members to make unlimited transactions for no monthly fee. It also provides access to 1,800 plus surcharge-free ATMs across Canada, Apple Pay, online banking, and free transfers between accounts.
- Student chequing
Affinity recognizes the value of a good post-secondary education. Affinity also realizes it can be quite expensive! For this reason, Affinity offers a Student chequing account. Similar to its Youth account, the Student account allows members unlimited monthly transactions for no monthly fee. Student accounts are available to any member enrolled in post-secondary education, regardless of age. What is more, Affinity members can continue to use their Student account for up to 24 months after graduating. Like the Youth and Unlimited accounts, the Student account also provides access to Affinity's network of ATMs and e-banking services.
- 65+ chequing
Affinity recognizes that with age comes wisdom. Affinity, accordingly, designed a special account specifically for its senior members. The 65+ account offers free, unlimited transactions, along with 100 free cheques per year and a host of other free services. And to top off the package, Affinity pays interest on all deposits into their 65+ accounts.
- U.S. chequing
For those who spend considerable time south of the border, Affinity offers a U.S. chequing account, which holds funds in U.S. dollars and pays interest in U.S. dollars in order to avoid the hassle of constantly dealing with exchange rates. The U.S. account is a pay as you go account. Members will pay $1 per electronic debit, $1 per processed cheque or staff-assisted debit, and $1.25 per staff-assisted utility payment. It does bear noting, however, that Affinity does not offer ATM withdrawals or overdraft protection on its U.S. chequing accounts.
Personal savings accounts
Affinity also offers a pair of personal savings accounts to it members.
- Everyday savings
This flexible account is designed for short term savings that allow members to move their money as they need. It offers 2 free transactions per month, with additional transactions costing $1 each.
- Investor savings
This account is designed to help your money grow. For this reason, it limits transactions to 1 per month, with each additional transaction costing $5. But it also pays a higher interest rate than the Everyday account.
Affinity offers a full range of personal financing options. This includes mortgages, loans, credit cards, and revolving lines of credit.
Affinity's mortgage service includes a first-time homebuyer program, as well as refinancing options and the ability to leverage your home's equity to renovate or upgrade.
Affinity offers a full range of personal loans, as well, which include education loans and loans taken out against your retirement savings.
- Lines of credit
Affinity's personal line of credit essentially acts like a personal loan against your chequing account. It allows you to temporarily overdraw your account without incurring an overdraft fee, while charging interest only on the amount you use.
- Credit cards
Affinity offers a full range of MasterCard credit card options.
- Student: The Student card comes with no annual fee and a low 11.90% interest rate.
- World: The World card carries a $150 annual fee and a 19.90% interest rate. It also offers a 2% reward rate and a strong travel insurance program.
- Centra Gold: The Centra Gold card carries a $50 annual fee and a very low 9.90% interest rate. It offers 1% cashback and a rental car insurance program.
- Travel Rewards: The Travel Rewards card carries at $110 annual fee and 19.90% interest rate. Members receive 1 point per $1 spent, along with travel and rental car insurance.
- Flex: The Flex card carries a $40 annual fee and variable interest rate as low as 9.90%. It also comes with a mobile device insurance program.
- Cash Back: The Cash Back card carries no annual fee and a 19.90% interest rate. Members receive 1 point for every $1 spent and double points on gas purchases.
- Classic: The Classic Card carries a low $30 annual fee and 11.90% interest rate. It offers an extensive purchase protection program and extended warranties on select purchases.
- U.S. Dollar: The U.S. Dollar card carries a $65 USD annual fee and 19.90% interest rate. Members receive 1 point per $1 USD spent, along with travel and auto rental insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranties.
All of Affinity's credit cards also come with zero-liability fraud insurance, meaning you'll never be on the hook for fraudulent charges if your card is compromised.
Business financial services
Affinity offers a comprehensive suite of business services, as well. From chequing, to savings, to borrowing, Affinity has businesses covered. We'll lay out a quick overview below.
Business chequing accounts
Affinity offers Basic, Enhanced, Select, and U.S. business chequing options.
- Basic: This account allows members to make up to 6 transactions per month for a $6 fee.
- Enhanced: This account charges $30 per month for up to 40 transactions.
- Select: This account charges $60 per month for unlimited transactions.
- U.S.: Similar to the Basic account, this account costs $6 USD per month for 6 transactions.
All Affinity business accounts include free deposits and access to Affinity's suite of online banking tools.
Business savings accounts
Affinity offers interest-bearing savings accounts to its business members. These accounts carry no monthly fee and allow members to make 1 free transaction per month. Additional transactions cost $5.
No business can succeed without access to reliable financing options. For this reason, Affinity offers a comprehensive range of ways for businesses to borrow money. These include loans, lines of credit, mortgages, and credit cards.
Affinity's MasterCard business credit cards include:
- Low rate: $25 annual fee and 12.90% interest rate
- No Fee Cash Back: $0 annual fee, 19.90% interest rate, and 1 point for every $2 spent
- Platinum Business: $120 annual fee, 19.90% interest, 2 points per $1 spent, and travel and rental car insurance.
Affinity's business credit cards, like their personal cards, all come with zero liability fraud protection.
No financial institution would be complete without the ability to help its members invest their money. For this reason, Affinity offers Guaranteed Investment Certificates, a host of retirement saving and investment options, and mutual funds to help members reduce their risk by diversifying their investment portfolios. Whether you're saving for a child's education, retirement, a car, or a home, Affinity offers an investment service to help.
How does Affinity stack up to the competition?
Affinity Credit Union is a very strong choice of financial institution for residents of Saskatchewan. As a top-10 credit union, Affinity has the size and experience to take care of its members regardless of their financial needs. Affinity's membership in the CUDGC ensures no member's deposit will ever be lost. And Affinity's membership in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values makes it a leading figure in the worldwide effort to improve banking ethics and to make a difference through finance.
Based on our review of Affinity's services, as well as their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, we're convinced that Affinity should be a contender for your business if you're a resident of Saskatchewan. Affinity's full range of financial technology allow members to access their money and take care of business from wherever they find themselves. But as with any major decision, we encourage you to visit Affinity's website to determine whether Affinity is right for you.