Is my money safe in a credit union?

January 25, 2010

Is putting your money in a credit union safer than hiding it in your sock drawer or burying it in the backyard? Yes. Is it insured? Yes.

Your deposits in most credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration, NCUA. The NCUA is the equivalent of the FDIC. The FDIC is for banks and savings and loans, the NCUA is for credit unions.


NCUAs share insurance fund is a federal fund backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government and they display the NCUA logo. That’s as safe as it is possible to get in the United States. If you don’t trust the U.S. government, some credit unions are insured by American Share Insurance (ASI), a private insurer of credit union savings. ASI has a higher insurance limit. Patelco used to be insured by ASI. The rest of this post is about the NCUA.

How much is insured by NCUA? Up to $250,000 per person per ownership category per credit union. Common ownership categories are “individual,” “joint,” “IRA,” and “revocable trust.”

If you are single, you can put $250, 000 in individual accounts, and up to another $250,000 in your IRAs. If you are married(1), you can also put $250,000 in a joint account. In addition, your spouse can put the same in their accounts. If you want to deposit more money than that, you will need an additional credit union.

The NCUA has a good FAQ explaining how their insurance works.

In 2008, NCUA insurance was increased from $100,000 to $250,000. It was scheduled to return to $100K at the end of 2009. Recent legislation has extended the $250K coverage to 2013.

What happens when a credit union fails? Usually the NCUA transfers your accounts to another credit union. Patelco acquired Sterlent and Cal State 9 credit unions recently. Friends of mine report that the transition went smoothly, although Patelco told Cal State 9 members that they could keep their same account numbers and that wasn’t true.


(1) Joint tenancy with someone who is not your legal spouse can result in gift taxes. Please consult a tax professional and work to legalize same-sex marriages.

Other Coast Live Oak posts in the Credit Union series:
Move Your Money to Oakland,
PatelCo Credit Union,
Provident CU: Super Rewards Checking,
Alliant Credit Union: high savings rates
Oakland Credit Unions: the complete list


Oakland Credit Unions: the complete list

January 22, 2010

Here is the complete list of credit unions with offices in Oakland. From the NCUA database and my own sleuthing. Let me know if I missed any.

Oakland Municipal CU: Field of membership includes all who live, work or worship in the City of Oakland or San Leandro.

Kaiser Lakeside CU, a division of  SafeAmerica CU: Anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in the California counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, or Santa Clara are eligible to join SafeAmerica Credit Union. When I joined this CU, they told me it was enough to know someone in one of those counties. THIS CU IS NOT FEDERALLY INSURED.

Pacific Service CU: PG&E employees and customers.

The Golden 1 CU: anyone in 34 California counties.

Peoples’ Federal Credit Union: Oakland Flatlands geographic region of the California Bay Area: This area encompasses North Oakland, West Oakland, Chinatown, San Antonio, Fruitvale, Central East Oakland, and Elmhurst. Anyone who lives, works, worships, or volunteers in this area. That’s the only time I’ve seen “volunteers.”

Provident CU: Anyone who lives or works in Alameda County, Contra Costa County and 8 others. Plus many other ways to be eligible.

Patelco CU: Anyone who lives or works in Alameda County, Contra Costa County and 8 others. Not the same list as Provident. Plus many other ways to be eligible. Not the same list as Provident.

Alliant CU: A long list of qualifying organizations, many in Oakland since they absorbed some local CUs. My favorites are Kaiser Permanente (yes, your HMO membership makes you eligible) and “Local PTA.”

1st United Services Credit Union: Anyone who lives, regularly works, or attends school in Alameda or Contra Costa Counties California, as well as any and all businesses, corporations, organizations, or associations located in such counties. (added January 30, 2010)

Restricted membership Credit Unions:

Hanin Federal Credit Union: members of St. Andrew Kim Korean Catholic Church in Oakland, Korean American Coalition. It’s possible that anyone can join the Korean American Coalition, but I couldn’t tell from the website.

Chevron Texaco Credit Union: restricted to Chevron Texaco or Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman employees and families.

East Bay Postal CU. Restricted to postal workers. No website. 480 Roland Way, Oakland. (510) 568-7150.

ILWU – FSC Restricted to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Matson Employees CU. I couldn’t find a website or an address. If you work there, ask human resources.

ONIZED Oakland CU. I couldn’t find any information about this one either.

Sea West Coast Guard CU For the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Armed Forces, and some others.

Taylor Memorial United Methodist FCU. No website. 12th and Adeline, Oakland. (510) 465-1734.

Utility District CU. Employees of EBMUD and their immediate family members are eligible to join.


Other Coast Live Oak posts in the Credit Union series:
Move Your Money to Oakland,
PatelCo Credit Union,
Provident CU: Super Rewards Checking,
Alliant Credit Union: high savings rates

Hamlet in Oakland

January 16, 2010

Go see the last performance of Hamlet:Blood in the Brain at Oakland Tech tonight at 7.

I just got back from the matinee, and recommend it. They are taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer.
Watch this space for a more comprehensive review when I get some time.

Alliant Credit Union: high savings rates

January 15, 2010

Alliant Credit Union

If you want to save money and collect interest on it, Alliant Credit Union has good interest rates.

Regular savings earns 2.00%. Contrast that with the 0.05% offered by, for example, Wells Fargo. The Alliant minimum is $100 to earn that rate, and $5 to have an account/be a member. You can withdraw this money at any time. Or add more.

Alliant does not handle cash. They will write you a check. Or you can go to an ATM or Patelco CU to get cash. I think that’s odd, but I’ll bet they save a lot of money on security that way.

Their certificate rates are also good. You can pick the exact time you want your certificate to mature. That could be useful if you have a known expense coming up, like college tuition, and want to get high interest and safety while you wait. Currently, they are offering 3.0% on 48 to 60 month certificates.

Alliant CU started out as the CU for United Airlines in Chicago. The first item on their fee schedule is “airplane loan fee.” They’ve absorbed several other credit unions including KaiPerm. So all Kaiser Permanente members are eligible to join. Other Oakland organizations that I recognize are Allen Temple Baptist Church, Bay Alarm Company, CH2MHill, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. The “local PTA” is probably the loophole for anyone not otherwise covered. Check with your local school — Crocker Highlands Elementary’s PTA only cost $5 and they’d let anyone join.

Previous post in this series: Provident CU: Super Rewards Checking.

Provident CU: Super Rewards Checking

January 13, 2010

Provident Credit Union offers high interest on their super rewards checking account. Currently 2.51% APY on the first $25,000. There are several hoops to jump through, though.

  1. Direct deposit. I arranged for an automatic deposit from savings at another financial institution, since we have no regular paychecks or pensions at this time.
  2. 10 check card transactions per month. Not ATM transactions. We like the new Oakland parking kiosks because they take our cards! This is the hardest one because you have to meet it every month. If you don’t, the interest rate drops to 0.100%
  3. Electronic statements. I really resisted this, but I’m getting used to it.

There are many ATMs that are free for Provident CU members (all 7-11 stores have them), but if there is a charge, Provident will rebate up to $2.50. There is no minimum balance and there is no monthly charge. They will take overdrafts out of the Provident account that you specify at no charge if you have enough money there. You can make deposits and get checks at PatelCo branches, which is important since the only Oakland Provident CU branch is the one on Edgewater Drive.

There is a credit card rewards program for the check card, but I didn’t think it was worth signing up for. They have e-bill pay, but it failed spectacularly the only time I used it. I’m going to have to try it again some time.

Provident also offers a 3% APY Health Savings checking account for those with High Deductible Health Plans.

Their certificate rates are a little lower than PatelCo’s.

If you don’t live in Oakland, there are a lot of ways to be eligible to join Provident CU. Check the “Join Provident” button and the “Association Membership” category.

Previous in this series: Patelco CU

Patelco Credit Union

January 13, 2010

Patelco Credit Union

Patelco Credit Union is the most useful of all the Oakland credit unions. They are the “shared branch” for all the other credit unions. Everyone who lives or works in Alameda County is eligible to join. If you aren’t lucky enough to live here or be otherwise eligible, you can join Community Association for Engaging Youth.

The first thing to notice is their “new member” Certificate with a rate of 5.0% APY (Annual Percentage Yield). That’s the highest rate you can get for insured savings today. Unfortunately, it’s only for one year and exactly $1000. They will even give you the $1 to open a “share account” aka “tiered savings account” when you become a member.  Their other certificate rates are good, but generally not the highest.

I like their youth accounts to help young people learn to manage their money. Starting at age 7, kids can have their own savings. And at 12, they can have an ATM card, and at 14, a checking account. I remember the savings and loan that advertised “free checking for everyone” insisting that my 16-year-old could only open a checking account with a linked $10,000 savings account. So I really appreciated the ease with which my younger child opened a Patelco account. We miss the Gr8 rate of 8% on the first $1K for a youth account.

“Patelco was started in 1936 to serve employees of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. Since then, Patelco has grown to become the 13th largest credit union in the United States with over 40 branches, 250,000 members and over $4 billion in assets.” (ref.)  It’s the 4th largest in California.

Next in this series: Provident CU: Super Rewards Checking

Move Your Money to Oakland

January 13, 2010

There is a new movement afoot to Move Your Money to local banks. Here’s the website with a cute movie: This movement has been reported on in the Huffington Post, by Oakland Seen on their facebook page, and by Oakland Grown.

The Move Your Money site doesn’t cover credit unions. That’s a major omission.

So I’m starting a series about money in Oakland.  Starting with credit unions I am familiar with.

Different people need different things from their financial institutions. Some people need low minimum balances, and low fees. Some people need low loan rates. My concerns are mostly with savings and how much the institution will pay me.  There is a need for posts speaking to the other concerns. If you write them, please drop a link here, ok?

Next in the series: Patelco Credit Union

Rosie the Riveter

October 1, 2009

Last night I enjoyed the Shotgun PlayersThis World in a Woman’s Hands. It tied together several parts of local history that had been separated in my mind: Rosie the Riveter, the African-American migration to the East Bay, Kaiser, the Port Chicago disaster, and Richmond’s reputation for violence.

Margo Hall as Gloria Cutting, welder. Photo Credit: Jessica Palopoli

Margo Hall as Gloria Cutting, welder. Photo Credit: Jessica Palopoli

It’s the story of Gloria Cutting who leaves her daughter behind in Louisiana and travels to California to become a welder. The advertisements promise “equal pay for equal work” but she has to fight to get the equal work and, even then, whites are paid more than coloreds. Her dead mother scrubbed floors to make a better life for Gloria, and Gloria struggles to save enough money to make a better life for her own daughter. She transforms as she does the work she is given to do in the world. This work includes caring for the women who have lost jobs or lost husbands in the explosion, helping to start unions, and scrubbing the blood off the streets of Richmond.

The music in this production is wonderful. There are gospel songs sung by Gloria and her dead mother, jazz songs, and mouth music to convey the sense of being in the industrial shipyard. The only musician is a bass player and, somehow, that’s enough.  Mollie Holm and Linda Tillery did an amazing job on the music.

Sounds of working together.  Photo Credit: Benjamin Pirivitt

Sounds of working together. Photo Credit: Benjamin Pirivitt

The set rises up and comes around the audience, and is transformed from the WWII shipyard into the graffiti-written present-day Richmond with light. I enjoyed the show and recommend that you see it. The run has been extended through October 18.

When I have thought of “Rosie the Riveter,” I hadn’t ever considered that not all of them were white like the famous poster. The only “Rosie” that I know is Ruth Gordon who told me about being fired from Boeing at the end of the war with the excuse that “the men have families to support.” Ruth was supporting her disabled mother at the time.

This World in a Womans Hands

This World in a Woman's Hands

I knew about the Port Chicago explosion, but this play brought home the meaning for me, through the wife’s viewpoint. African-American men were not allowed in combat, so one of the jobs they were stuck with was the even more dangerous job of loading munitions on ships. (What about Asian and Hispanic men during WWII? That’s an area for further learning for me, and they aren’t mentioned in the sources I’ve found so far.) Her husband was in tiny, unrecognizable pieces after the disaster. Fifty men were imprisoned for refusing to work in these unsafe conditions, and Gloria Cutting urges the other men to stand with them and change things. Unions and the Civil Rights movement both started in the wake of  these events.

One of the major streets in Richmond is Cutting Boulevard, and I wondered if the street was named after Gloria Cutting but, since she’s a fictional character, perhaps she was named after the street. I remember that playwright Marcus Gardley named most of the characters in his “Love is a Dream House in Lorin” after streets. Checking the cast list, the characters last names are Coronado, Rumrill, Cutting, Saint Fay, Barrett, Harbor, Carlson, Grant, and Parchester. I can’t find Saint Fay on the map of Richmond, but all the others are streets except Parchester Village.  (click that link. It’s fascinating.)

The lasting legacy of the Kaiser shipyards in my life is Kaiser Permanente HMO. Pre-paid vountary health care was a novel idea. But was it open to everyone employed at the shipyard?  I find it suspicious that “By August 1944, 92.2 percent of all Richmond shipyard employees had joined the plan….combined with “In the Bay Area, the percentage of black workers in the shipyards steadily grew from essentially zero at the beginning of the emergency shipbuilding program to about three percent in 1942, seven percent in 1943…” It could be that the  7% who didn’t join the health plan were the same 7% who were African-American. I would hope not, but the extensive .pdf at the latter link details egregious discrimination. The play neglects the health plan.

Health Plan recruitment poster

Health Plan recruitment poster

You might also like the Pop History Dig about Rosie the Riveter and Betty Soskin’s blog about being consulted for the play. Here, here, and here

Race-ometer stats: Cast W/B/O = 4/5/1, Audience W/B/O = 49/9/13

Amazing Ella Baker Center

August 21, 2009

The Ella Baker Center is trying to end poverty, end crime and violence, fix the climate, and do it all in Oakland.

Tomorrow they will be planting a tree for me in West Oakland. You could come help if you like. Next month it will be installing solar panels in East Oakland.

They’ve got some impressive Climate Change reduction targets, goals and action areas. The first class of the Oakland Green Jobs Corps has graduated, well over half of the graduates have already been placed in full-time jobs, with many more continuing their education with 3-months of paid, on-the-job training through green-collar employers, and pictures are posted!

For those of you who aren’t on their mailing list yet, here’s a snippet:

Save the Dates!

The rest of the year promises to be even more exciting than the beginning. Here are some upcoming events we thought you’d be interested in. See you there!

Saturday, August 22nd: Plant a tree in West Oakland with Soul of the City. Click here to RSVP.
Sunday, August 30th: Grind for the Green – Solar Powered Hip Hop Concert featuring Dead Prez. Click here for more information.
Saturday, September 12th: Help Green the Block by volunteering with GRID Alternatives to install 16 solar PV systems in East Oakland. We’ll send you an invite soon!
Saturday, October 24th: Join for an International Day of Action of Climate Action. Click here to find an action near you.
Thursday, November 12th: Ella Baker Center’s Annual Celebration and Fundraiser
Thursday, November 19th: Oakland Climate Action Coalition hosts Solutions Salon for Climate Justice in Oakland.

The Race-ometer

August 2, 2009

Unlearning Racism Adventure #2

I’ve got a pedometer. My HMO encourages healthy habits and preventative care. One of their programs is “10,000 steps.” You get a pedometer and try to take 10,000 steps every day. (I can’t do that while on the internet, but FlyLady has figured out how to.)

So I got a pedometer and just put it in my pocket. I took it out and looked at how many steps I’d walked every day. There was an attitude change. I started wanting to get that number higher. I quit whining when my airplane was at the farthest gate–now it was a chance to get a few more steps in before being locked in a metal tube. I started taking more than one walk a day sometimes. Just measuring changed my behaviour–an example of the observer effect. Yay! Science in action!

Can scientific measurement help me overcome my personal racism?

I’m going to start by keeping track of how many people of color are at the events that I attend.The comedian  W. Kamau Bell reminded me that if everyone around me is white, that’s white privilege. In Oakland, California, about a third of the people are white, a third black or African-American, and a third are every other category. In addition, about a quarter are Hispanic or Latino.

The Race-ometer:

W/B/O = 33/33/33

White/Black/Other = 33/33/33

That’s the goal. Ten thousand steps and only one-third white people. I start by observing where I am. The “other” category is to help me break out of the White/Black binary thinking I usually do.

So, where was I yesterday? PEERS River City, Iowa, Picnic Dance of 1912 = W/B/O = 150/6/11. This surprised me a lot. I was expecting 150/0/0. (I estimated the number of white people. I may have double-counted or missed a few of the non-white people. Still, it’s a start.) Later, dinner with friends W/B/O = 4/0/0.

I’ve realized that to get the race-ometer numbers to average 3/3/3 means that I will sometimes be in situations where whites are in the minority, which will be uncomfortable for me. Do you think that’s why Biden was invited to sit down with Gates, Crowley and Obama?