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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Family Trust Emphasizes Community with its Credit Products and Financial Wellness Services

Family Trust Puts Members First With Its Credit Products
Brandon Rossman

Written by: Brandon Rossman

Brandon Rossman
Brandon Rossman

Brandon has covered all corners of the finance industry as a multimedia reporter for news outlets such as WUFT and WINK News. Early in his television news career, Brandon developed a reputation for leading interviews with financial portfolio managers, investment bankers, and venture capitalists, among other industry leaders. He writes with a journalistic hunger for the truth.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Advertiser Disclosure

In a Nutshell: Family Trust treats its members like family because, to the credit union, members are family. The credit union is based and headquartered in York County, South Carolina, and is open to anyone who lives, works, or worships in the county. Family Trust caters its banking services to the community and gets to know each member’s financial situation. No member is just a number. Family Trust works with members to assist them and put them in a position to be financially successful.

Family Trust’s story starts out nearly 70 years ago. The credit union, which was founded to help textile workers consolidate debt and save for their future, opened as the Rock Hill Printing and Fishing Federal Credit Union in a stockroom in 1957.

In 1988, the credit union became the Family Trust Federal Credit Union. A new charter allowed the credit union to open its doors to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in York County, South Carolina.

Family Trust is the only credit union headquartered in York County. People in the community know the credit union is dedicated to its members and the county. As a credit union, Family Trust does not answer to shareholders and is not trying to boost profits at all costs. The credit union is owned by its members, and all revenue goes back into providing better products and services to members.

“We take pride in the fact that we give back specifically to York County,” Family Trust Vice President of Marketing Janet Hadjar said. “We give back to the community. It comes down to the credit union mantra of people helping people.”

Every employee from the tellers all the way to executives are committed to helping members. Even Family Trust’s CEO gets in the details to help solve members’ problems.

“We take time out of our day to try to resolve issues that some of the larger financial institutions may see as insignificant,” Hadjar said. “It makes sense because we really want to put the members first.”

Offering the Same Services Online and at Branches

Family Trust is fully committed to offering its financial services online, while keeping a steady branch presence for its members. The credit union made the investment into digital banking several years ago and uses its experience to make its products and services better. Family Trust’s banking app is highly rated, and all services are accessible from the app or website. 

By creating its digital offerings, Family Trust ensured it was ready when the Covid-19 pandemic kept people inside their homes. The credit union said its response to the pandemic helped quell member concerns about finances during an unstable economic period.

The credit union said it did not close branches, instead it offered all of its services through the drive-thru windows. Family Trust also booked appointments for members in special cases. ATM limits were increased to cover 95% of people who wanted cash back.

The situation also highlighted several of the digital services members didn’t even know they could access. The credit union said services like mobile check deposit were used far more often once people started social distancing.

“We really tried to make it as easy as possible for people to do business,” Hadjar said. “We took that opportunity to put members at ease.”

Leading with Products That Reinforce Credit Building

Family Trust’s credit and loan products are accessible, affordable and competitive with those of other institutions. That’s in line with its philosophy of people helping people.

The credit union features two credit cards. One is the Traditional Visa credit card which comes with a low interest rate. For those who want to earn rewards with their purchases, Family Trust offers a Platinum Rewards credit card.

“We have amazing rates, even if you have a lower credit score,” Hadjar said. “The traditional credit card has a lower interest rate, while the platinum has a higher interest rate while staying affordable.”

Image of Family Trust credit card
Family Trust credit cards feature low interest rates and no annual fees.

Members earn one point per dollar spent using the Platinum Rewards card. There are no annual fees or cash advance fees associated with either credit card. Points are versatile and members use them to pay for things like gas or even Netflix subscriptions.

One of life’s major milestones is buying a home. At a time when that’s becoming increasingly difficult, Family Trust helps put members first in getting approved for mortgages.

The credit union offers a 100% mortgage financing program. Family Trust’s website also helps borrowers estimate how much home they can afford by providing a calculator that breaks down the monthly loan payments they will need to make.

In addition to its traditional checking and savings accounts, Family Trust provides members a checking account specifically designed to rebuild credit scores. The account is called Fresh Start, and it offers the opportunity to reestablish credit histories. It features unlimited check writing, a free Visa debit card, overdraft protection, no minimum balance or deposit to open, and a low monthly maintenance fee of $10. The account helps re-establish a banking history for members who want to work to improve their credit scores.

Creating Solutions for Every Member’s Needs

Family Trust emphasizes that it doesn’t just provide services, but will get members the help they need to hit financial goals. To assist in that vision, the credit union has a full-time financial counselor on staff. The financial counselor helps members with budgeting, setting goals, and then meeting those goals.

“If you want to save up to send your kids off to college, we help you with that,” Hadjar said. “If you’re trying to retire, we focus your plan around that. It’s all about getting members where they want to be.”

The financial wellness services are not limited to consumers with a particular credit score or by how much money a member has in their account. Family Trust believes financial counseling should be accessible to all of its members.

Image of Family Trust Vice President of Marketing Janet Hadjar
Family Trust Vice President of Marketing Janet Hadjar

“When people hear about a financial planner or counselor, they think it’s expensive,” Hadjar said. “They really help everybody, there’s never a time in your life where you can’t benefit from talking about your finances. It’s a really wonderful position to have on staff.”

Family Trust also goes out of its way to help everybody in the community, whether they are members or not. Financial advisors and counselors go out to classrooms and offer local schools free community financial counseling workshops.

The credit union’s website is often updated with monthly blog posts highlighting lesser known services meant to help people. Family Trust works with members who may not qualify for certain services to find a solution to their problems. Members speak with the financial counselor to identify services better suited to their situation, and come up with a plan to rebuild credit scores.

“Our financial counselor is passionate about what she does,” Hadjar said. “She loves her job and loves helping people. There’s always that opportunity for members. She meets with them to help them achieve financial success.”

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