SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Samson DeBose, branch manager at Garden Savings Federal Credit Union, wants the community to know why they are different from a standard bank.

“We are friendly, and family oriented,” he said. Depositors are not customers at a credit union, but rather members. DeBose explained that “our members are the share holders, they are the ones who drive the credit union’s interests,” rather than the public stockholders and boards of most banks.

“We have a set level interest we can charge members for loans while banks can raise rates higher,” he said. “Our loan interest rates are lower than our competitors, and our dividend rates are higher because we are non-profit and governed by the National Credit Union Administration, a United States government agency.”

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Previously on a different side street in South Orange, GSFCU is currently on Scotland Road, between South Orange Avenue. “Garden Savings moved to this location to be more visible to the community, and since we’ve moved here we’ve gotten an influx of members, both full time South Orange residents and many Seton Hall students,” with which GSFCU has a partnership program.

“We are more personable,” DeBose noted, and by your second visit, “someone here will know your name. It’s a family dynamic, not just a banking relationship.”

While sometimes the perception is that credit unions do not offer the same level of convenient access as banks, DeBose says this simply is not the case at Garden Savings. “If you can’t make it to our four locations, there’s still plenty of ways to access your accounts.  We are part of the Co-Op shared branching network, which gives you an opportunity to access your accounts at Garden Savings from a number of other credit unions who are all part of this network.” DeBose noted there are 85,000 surcharge-free ATM’s in their network world-wide if you can’t make it to a GSFCU ATM, and you can make deposits to your account using Mobile Check Deposit as well by their app or on a browser.

The credit union also offers $500 Book Scholarships to eligible high school senior members and partakes in a national supplemental student loan program.  Their services are diverse and designed to serve the needs of members of all ages, cultures, and life stages.  Garden Savings was founded in 1968 is one of New Jersey’s largest credit unions with over $375 million in assets.

DeBose started as a teller 12 years ago, and has enjoyed his time with GCFCU. “They love to promote from within, which I really appreciate.” He’s not only staff, he’s a member himself as well.

Linda from Newark comes in often. “I’ve always been a member of a credit union,” she said, because she likes the service. She has been coming to the South Orange branch since they opened. “You know who you’re going to talk to when you come in. They’re so friendly.”