In a Nutshell: The mission of Travis Credit Union is to build lifelong relationships with its members to help them achieve their financial goals. The credit union does this through community events, credit cards that help members build credit, accessible loans, and checking accounts with no overdraft fees. Travis Credit Union works to offer those products and services as easily as possible as a community development financial institution. Grants through its CDFI certification support unique products and services designed to assist those who do not have access to mainstream financial products. For these impressive efforts, we are recognizing Travis Credit Union with our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
Just like its founders who served in the United States Air Force, Travis Credit Union’s dedication to service continues to this day, more than 70 years later. It is the credit union’s mission to support causes it finds awesome (aptly named Awesome Cause) through financial education, financial literacy, and financial advocacy, which helps its members and community residents improve their financial wellness and quality of life.
Founded in 1951 by military and civilian workers at Travis Air Force Base in California, Travis Credit Union now sponsors more than 200 charities and causes in the state’s northern counties through Awesome Cause. Credit union employees have volunteered more than 13,000 hours to community efforts.
Travis Credit Union recognizes the road to financial success includes home ownership and creating a roadmap to retirement. Thanks to its community partnerships, the credit union can make sure critical financial tools remain accessible to all of its members.
But making sure everyone has access to these financial tools is only half the battle. Travis Credit Union uses a lot of its resources in outreach and events to teach the communities it serves about resources at their disposal.
Most community events are in person to build genuine connections. But with the pandemic, Travis Credit Union makes available virtual resources, including financial education, scholarships, and the credit union’s community impact report that details how it supports the community.
“Connecting those dots means we respond to the communities,” Travis Credit Union President and CEO Barry Nelson said. “That’s why CDFI was important for us to earn. That’s why access and equity and inclusion are really important as well — we weren’t new to this game.”
Because of its breadth of available resources and open access to the help it provides, we are recognizing Travis Credit Union with our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
Making a Difference Through Financial Literacy
Travis Credit Union makes it clear: The best way to help the communities it serves is to constantly communicate the assistance available.
Its commitment to getting in touch with the underbanked counties starts with going to community leaders to find areas that need help the most. The credit union uses these critical partnerships to target underserved communities so they can begin to build better financial futures.
In addition to reaching out in person, Travis Credit Union offers many of its resources virtually. On its website are free financial education webinars and interactive financial education courses.
One of the biggest challenges Travis Credit Union’s community is facing is predatory payday lending. Its virtual resources offer help and information, so those loans can be avoided.
To help members escape the payday loan cycle, Travis Credit Union offers a program in which the credit union pays off the payday loan and replaces it with a more favorable loan. These loans are created to give members an opportunity to build back their credit and set themselves up for the future.
“We believe all individuals should have access to free resources and curriculum that support financial success,” Nelson said. “We should encourage the practice of those skills and pair it with financial literacy and financial advocacy. We believe they can become champions of financial wellness for themselves, their families, and for their community.”
Products and Services for Building Credit
Travis Credit Union makes it a priority to help members understand credit and offer ways to boost credit scores.
No matter what a member’s credit score is, Travis Credit Union has Visa credit cards that have competitive interest rates to build credit quickly with responsible payback behavior.
The credit union also gives out signature loans for buying necessities. Paying those loans back on time also reflects on credit reports and helps build a credit history.
Its checking accounts feature a debit card that does not have overdraft fees. Transactions that go over the balance in a cardholder’s checking account will instead be declined.
A partnership with Experian gives Travis Credit Union’s members an opportunity to boost credit scores. After signing up for the program, Experian pulls up on-time utility bill payments so they show up on the credit report.
First-time home buyers can take advantage of Travis Credit Union’s program to start their journey toward building wealth. The program allows first-time buyers to receive 100% financing with no money down for a house.
Members can sign into their accounts online and can access a financial wellness assessment.
After completing the assessment, members are matched to services that will give them the best benefits and links them to a Travis Credit Union team member to figure out the next steps.
“It’s all connected to continuously building up the community, ” Nelson said. “The goal is to figure out better ways to serve the community, how to reach them, and how to connect with them on a better level. Our mission is to build lifelong relationships, and support them in their journey to financial success.“
Supporting and Giving Back to Members and Community
For two years in a row, Travis Credit Union has been named one of the best credit unions in California by Forbes. It’s a distinction the credit union values and wants to expand upon.
Because it is not for profit and member-owned, Travis Credit Union does not concern itself with shareholders. Financial gains are funneled back to the community based on what its members vote for.
Each member gets one vote no matter how much money they have put into the credit union.
This is how the credit union says it is successful and is prepared for a rainy day fund.
When the COVID pandemic started, Travis Credit Union took immediate action. Through its campaign and efforts, the credit union raised $1 million within the community and then matched that donation.
Throughout the peak of the pandemic, Travis Credit Union gave back $3 million to the community. The money was given to nonprofit organizations providing food and resources to those who fell on hard times.
The money funds its financial guidance and solutions to be provided in both English and Spanish for one-on-one financial coaching.
The credit union awards 20 scholarships totaling $40,000 each year to local students and TCU members who are academically motivated and active in their schools and communities. TCU also hosts events to aid foster and homeless students in achieving their higher education goals.
“We are committed to serving and building our communities’ financial well-being,” Nelson said. “With the support of our employees, board of directors, and community partners, we strive to make a positive impact on the lives of everyone we serve every day. We have created financial education curriculum aimed at reaching individuals at all stages of life. Our passion for changing lives and lifting communities has been our guiding beacon for more than 70 years.”