People often forget to look right outside their front door. This is an old saying but still rings true today in many situations. With the internet, apps, smart phones, and tablets sometimes it is difficult to look up from an electronic device to take a look around. In a 2013 study, it was reported that 92% of those surveyed ages 18 to 34 currently patronize a bank but nearly half (45%) say they have also used outside services including prepaid cards, check cashing, pawn shops and payday loans. A huge chunk of this millennial generation may be incurring high fees and will not be reaping the benefits of utilizing traditional banking services. Military banks can provide a solution to this.
While it is true that military banks can charge fees, these financial institutions are regulated by the U.S. Government and also are required to abide by rules enforced by the Department of Defense. Military banks located within the gates of a military installation can provide fantastic resources for service members and their families, especially those just starting out. Military banks are providing more technology that millennials are looking for in their financial services to keep pace with the ever-changing market.
Military members are required to elect a financial institution at the time they enter into their military career for purposes of direct deposit, but their experience with the financial services industry shouldn’t stop there. Shopping for financial services should be something that service members and their spouses need to become comfortable doing, much like one would shop for a consumer product. Consider researching what services the military bank on your installation has to offer. Many on-base military banks offer an array of financial services and products for wealth-building opportunities and financial education. Often the banks work with personal financial counselor’s on base to provide education and information throughout the year.
In a crisis, military banks can be there to offer aid as well. Each of the services has their own relief association to help in time of need to provide aid (Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society) however, aid might not always be available or approved. Turning to a military bank in time of need when other aid services are not available will be a better choice than high cost alternative providers, such as payday lenders, that put service members and their families at financial risk.
What is important to remember is that military banks are on-base for a reason; they have signed an agreement with the Department of Defense to provide excellent resources, services, products and information to service members and their families. They definitely deserve a look out your front door.
Andia Dinesen, AFC ®
VP Communications and Operations