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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brewery Credit Union: Bringing BEER to Work

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The Brewery Credit Union (BCU) has more on tap than just savings accounts and car loans. The community not-for-profit organization also offers BEER, or Brewery Employees Education Resource programs.

“We always strive to educate,” said Marketing Director Mikal Gilliat, who noted that BCU’s seminars for first-time home buyers regularly draw 20 or more participants. “In this kind of economy, more people have questions about their finances. We explain things like credit scores, investing and how to manage money.”

BCU also offers payday loans at rates far below the competition, where interest can be as high as 90%. “We saw too many members being taken advantage of by payday lenders,” Gilliat said. “Those places avoid posting the APR [annual percentage rate], and just tell the public they are charging ‘X’ amount for $50 borrowed. We are upfront and charge far less.” The credit union is open to the public, but offers special rates and programs to member organizations. Gilliat said that Time Warner employees will join BCU September.

The credit union recently began offering mortgages. “One customer said he had been trying to buy a house for 10 years, but was always turned down because his credit score was too low,” Gilliat said. “Our mortgage specialist sat down with him, and in five minutes figured out there were three huge errors on his credit report.”

Several months later, the customer closed a deal on a new home.

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