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Exploring how credit unions maintain their edge

See what credit union members think about their experience, concerns and expectations of their credit union.

Now more than ever, members are navigating uncertain times and looking to their credit union to help them withstand financial surprises, stay on track with financial goals, and have the freedom to make financial choices.

A survey of credit union members1

To help credit unions maintain their edge, we conducted a pulse survey of credit union members to explore the role of credit unions across generations, gauge current financial concerns, assess what drives banking loyalty, and what credit unions need to do to exceed member expectations.

Key findings

  • Rising costs and increased living expenses are top of mind for credit union members across all generations.  
  • Credit unions stand out for building trusting, secure relationships.
  • Interactions with credit union representatives and loan officers are typically initiated by members. 
  • While a majority of credit union members are familiar with lending protection products, less than half of respondents have purchased a product.   

Top financial concerns for credit union members

Across all generations, rising costs and the inability to cover standard living expenses are top concerns:

  • 62% Rising costs
  • 57% Inflation
  • 55% Cost of living increasing, salary remains the same
  • 45% Not having enough savings for unexpected expenses
  • 41% Rising costs of home ownership/renting

Members are stressed by inflation and the rising costs of goods and services. Staying within their budgets as costs rise remains a struggle.

Top concerns vary by generation

Millennials and Gen X rank the rising costs of home ownership and saving enough for retirement among their top financial concerns.

Rising costs of home ownership/renting Not having enough saved for retirement
  • 50% of Millennials
  • 32% of Gen X
  • 39% of Millennials
  • 34% of Gen X

As rent and interest rates continue to rise, the cost of housing digs into members’ retirement plans and reduces their ability to save for either a down payment on a house or for their retirement.

Paying down debt is the most pressing concern for Gen Z and Millennials. The recent pandemic affected members ability to pay their bills. They took on more debt at this time.

Credit unions are the go-to financial institution for members

While financial stress remains in peoples’ lives, members take comfort in knowing their credit union is there for them. The emphasis credit unions place on building trusting relationships and high-quality customer service keep members loyal to their credit union and make it their preferred financial institution. Members across all generations feel safe working with credit unions, trust their money will be protected and do not feel “nickeled and dimed.”

Almost all members feel their credit union supports their overall financial well-being. And their efforts to build trusting relationships give members a feeling of support.

What credit unions can do

  • Start conversations with your members at each visit
  • Reach out to your members through email
  • Make online banking simple to use and easy to understand
  • Actively listen to their concerns during each interaction

How credit unions can build trusting relationships with members

  • Provide high quality customer service
  • Empathize with members and offer personalized problem solving in times of need
  • Spend time giving financial advice and guidance

How credit unions can better support overall financial well-being

When it comes to providing financial support, many members feel their credit union not only meets but beats expectations. Members note they would like their credit union to:

  • Offer more education and resources, including classes, that cover a variety of financial topics
  • Increase direct, personalized outreach regarding financial health
  • Take advantage of digital/mobile presence and capabilities

Why members reach out to their credit union

Interactions with credit unions commonly revolve around loan products — and are initiated by the member. Topics most recently discussed with credit union representatives include:


a new or existing loan


assistance with an existing account


products to help with financial health


how to open a new account

How members are learning about lending protection products

When it comes to lending protection, most members learned about the optional products from their credit union. When offered in connection with consumer lending solutions, protection programs provide a financial safety net to members when they need it most. And they can reduce loan defaults and delinquencies while maximizing non-interest income for credit unions. A majority of members mention learning of the products in this way:

  • A representative-initiated conversation during a meeting
  • As part of their membership enrollment
  • During a loan application or refinancing conversation

While most members are familiar with lending protection solutions, only about half have purchased the products


have purchased lending protection (debt protection or credit insurance)


have purchased GAP (guaranteed auto protection)


have purchased auto warranty or mechanical breakdown protection

What does this mean for credit unions?  

Credit unions continue to have staying power in today’s crowded marketplace due in part to their commitment to providing a consistent and personal approach to banking in this ever-changing environment.

To remain relevant, credit unions should take a more proactive approach to improving the member experience and help them feel more financially supported. Here's how:

  • Provide or expand educations classes and online tools to better explain the value of products and services for different individuals and circumstances
  • Encourage credit union representatives to personalize outreach to members to educate them on products and services to support their overall financial well-being based on personal goals and situations
  • Remind credit union representatives to introduce the availability and value of lending protection solutions during member registration and during the loan application process


In partnership with C Space, a third-party consultant, we used the following methodology to better understand the credit union member experience and explore members’ top economic concerns, their overall sentiments about their credit union, as well as their familiarity with lending protection solutions.

The research took place in June 2022 using an online survey fielded to Federal/Military and State credit union members who are full or part-time employees and are the primary or shared financial decision maker in their household. Study participants included 201 credit union members from large metropolitan areas across the United States who were compensated for their participation. 

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1. Securian Financial Credit Union Customer Survey. In June of 2022, we studied over 200 credit union members across the country in 11 geographic areas. Because each generation has unique mindsets and expectations, we wanted to explore the role of credit unions across generations, gauge current financial concerns, assess what drives banking loyalty, and what credit unions need to do to exceed member expectations. Participants were compensated for participation.

DOFU 2-2023