People helping people: CUs shine during coronavirus pandemic

a person holding red heart in hands, donate and family insurance concept, on aquamarine background, copy space top view

William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the New York Credit Union Association, recently reminded credit union professionals and volunteers about what is remarkable about the credit union movement: the ability to rally together in the face of adversity.

Credit unions have wasted no time rallying together in the adversity that currently is the coronavirus pandemic. And members know it.

“The impact from the words of our member says it all,” said Bob McFadden, president/CEO of Finger Lakes FCU, who shared a note of thanks from a member:

Please pass on to whomever, a thank you. Because of the amazing practices of this credit union, life for people like me won’t be quite so stressful. I can now breathe a bit better knowing I don’t have to figure out where to come up with payments AND still be able to feed my family.

 Credit unions around the state are helping members in a variety of ways. The Association has been collecting examples of how credit unions are helping their members and communities during the coronavirus pandemic through an online survey.

Below are some examples collected from the survey:

 Finger Lakes FCU

“Our commitment to our members and communities we serve includes responding with compassion and urgency,” McFadden said. Finger Lakes FCU has established a COVID-19 emergency member relief program, which includes:

  • loan payment deferments;
  • Visa credit card skip a pay;
  • 90-day mortgage payment relief;
  • short-term emergency 5% APR loans;
  • waived loan late fees;
  • overdraft fees and NSF fees waived through April 20;
  • express delivery fees for debit/credit cards waived;
  • FLFCU foreign ATM fees eliminated.
  • no rebate of fees; and
  • teller check fees waived.

Inner Lakes FCU

“We have implemented the following to assist both staff and members during this time of the pandemic,” said Travis Heiser, CEO of Inner Lakes FCU:

  • Transitioned to a split staff where one team works a full week, the second team alternates by working the following week and all staff gets paid as they did prior to the pandemic.
  • Many staff members are working from home, including the operations department.
  • Instituted an “emergency loan” for members, with less underwriting requirements and finding a reason to say “yes” to loan requests;. instituted a free skip-a-loan payment program;
  • Keeping branches open via drive-thru services and/or appointments.
  • Approving off-balance sheet loan companies to run their forbearance, loan skip and deferral loan options.
  • Lowering or eliminating courtesy pay fees in certain situations.

UHS Employees FCU

Kay Murray, CEO of UHS Employees FCU outlined what UHS Employees FCU has in place for its members, including:

  • offering a signature loan until May 18th with a 90-day first payment date;
  • offering deferments on consumer loans up to 90 days;
  • allowing CD withdrawals without penalty;
  • removing the skip-a-payment fee until May 18;
  • researching possible deferment on our HELOC fix-rate programs; and
  • limiting branch hours.


“GPO is confident in helping members get through this uncertain period of time,” said Courtney Walchusky, community relations coordinator of GPO FCU. “Having our members ‘in the know’ on precautions, closures and changes we have made to better their service at this time is our priority.”

Walchusky said that GPO FCU has made the following changes to accommodate member needs and deliver service safely:

  • extended drive-thru service hours;
  • made night deposit service available 24/7 with deposits and transaction requests posted either the same day or on the next business day;
  • provided members access to nearly 90,000 fee-free ATMs;
  • extended member service center hours;
  • added extra staff to handle call volume; and
  • made available GPO At Home service applications.

Walchusky said that members will continue to be notified about loan decisions, applications will be processed for debt relief and GPO FCU will remotely work with members on an individual basis to assist with loan needs.

GPO is also waiving skip-a-pay fees for current loan members, offering credit cardholders an additional $500 to their credit card limit and, extending the payment due date for all Visa credit cardholders with no penalties or adverse credit reporting, Walchusky said.

All branches servicing members are practicing social distancing, staff are wearing gloves at all times and continuously cleaning regularly touched surfaces, including drive thru tubes, pens and monetary instruments, she said.

GPO FCU is also updating messages on social media, sending members e-blasts and altering its audio response and phone messaging to best inform members, she said.

Alco FCU

Alco FCU published advertisements encouraging members that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic to call and ask how Alco FCU can help, said Mike Miller of Alco FCU. He also said that the credit union’s board approved three tools the credit union can utilize:

  • Any member who requests any fee be reversed during the crisis will get it reversed, no matter what the fee.
  • In addition to its normal skip a pay and loan extension promotions, the credit union is making additions to its skip a pay program to allow more people to use it and remove any fees associated with it.
  • Offering loans up to $1,000 unsecured for 5.99%, of which Miller said that “we’ve never done an unsecured rate that low before.”

Members also can skip the first month’s payment and pay on day 60,” Miller said. “The loan is for up to 18 months and the loan officers have a lot of leeway in how they use it.”

Northern Credit Union

Northern Credit Union launched a “full-on” COVID-19 financial relief program, said Alexa Bennett, associate vice president of marketing for Northern Credit Union.

The program includes:

  • zero-percent loans;
  • 120-day loan deferments;
  • 120-day mortgage forbearance;
  • 90-day student loan or student loan forbearance;
  • loan modification on certain delinquent loans;
  • more lenient refunds on ODP and ATM fees on a case-by-case basis;
  • new and replacement debit cards at no cost to members and delivered within two business days; and
  • encouraging members with credit disability insurance to submit disability claims.

In addition, Bennett said that the credit union has extended drive-though and call center hours; and lobby hours are by appointment only. And, “in one day, Northern Credit Union funded over 300K in loans. We are also doing a targeted mailer to members who may be impacted based on credit score, DTI and checking to see if their incoming DD are from an industry that has been impacted.”

Share your CU story on the Association’s website.

Leave a Reply