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Bye-bye, Greenbelt Credit Union

posted in: Business, Opinion

A while back I wrote about my eagerness to Move my Money – for reasons both political and practical – and my intention to make the Greenbelt Credit Union my money’s new home.

So here’s the latest: I still hadn’t closed my SunTrust account and transferred my automatic payment and deposit instructions to the credit union when I ran into a snag.  An insurmountable one.

When I finally looked at my credit union monthly statements (admittedly, after three of them had arrived) I discovered to my dismay that they didn’t indicate to whom checks were made out to.  That’s a detail that anyone who’s self-employed and deducts lots of payments for lots of reasons absolutely has to have.  And it’s something I hadn’t written down in my check register – because SunTrust statements had always given me that info.  (If you’re concluding I pay far too little attention to my financial affairs, boy-howdy is that ever true.   Always been that way.)

Overall, I found Credit Union statements hard to decipher but the big problem was the lack of payee info anywhere to be found – no returned checks (standard practice these days) but also no scanned images of checks.

Throwing myself on the mercy of the Credit Union, I discovered that the information IS available – at $3 per check.  And only for 6 months or so (kinda vague about that detail), after which there’s no way to know who a check was made out to.  I asked the general manager what’s a customer to do about this lack of information and was reprimanded for not keeping adequate bank records myself.  I was told that carbon copies of the checks we write are our permanent record of checks.

But they’re not proof of payment, I protest.  How I we prove actual payment?  “Nobody requires proof of payment anymore,” I was unconvincingly assured.  Not trusting that answer, I asked my CPA, who begged to disagree and told me to never write another check on my Credit Union account.

So much for my well-intentioned plan to move my money, huh?  And Suntrust just made it easier to use their Greenway branch without having to actually drive there – with their new deposit-by-smart-phone program.   After downloading the app, you just take pictures of the front and back of each check and voila!

So I’m stuck with a Big Bank after all, probably one too big to fail.  Sigh.

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

4 Responses

  1. Philippe Orlando
    | Reply

    I think I can see to whom I wrote a check when I go online! I rarely use checks, just debits, but in the rare occasion I have, I’m pretty sure I could see all the details online.

    • Susan
      | Reply

      The payees for the checks I wrote weren’t on the statement OR online, and there’s a fee to have that information researched. Even after the research (they waived the fee because I complained), not all the payee info could be found. And what info there IS online is only there for a few months, the exact number of which could not be determined by the people I asked.

  2. Kristi
    | Reply


    Checking account issues aside, it is still a good place to have a savings account when you need some cash–you can walk there and get it.  Early closing hours except for Friday make it really easy to save money!

  3. RChannon
    | Reply

    I use the credit union as a simple way to deposit checks and earn a little interest. 

    i made my own receipt form on the computer. when i need one i bring it up change the amount, print it out, sign it and staple the check to the receipt.  I drop it off in the deposit box anytime i am at the center – no need to worry about what time the bank is open. and i also keep my own computer records of checks sent to me.

    i established a link with my bank of america checking account, so whenever i need more money at BofA i transfer it from the credit union savings account.  i never write checks from the credit union.

    i have been disappointed to find that the credit union has rather poor interest rates for any kinds of loans, there are many specialized things it cant do that a bigger bank can, and at least for my account there is no way to electronically download bank transactions or link the account to yodlee.

    your solution of using your phone to photograph the check also sounds like a good one, perhaps a better one really.

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