According to the University of Wisconsin news site, UW recently renewed its contract with UW Credit Union for another five years, extending the relationship’s expiration to 2025.

Wisconsin School of Business finance professor James Johannes said though the contract was first signed in 2009, the university’s ties to the Credit Union go back to its early years as an institution.

“The formal licensing arrangements and things that the Credit Union has with the university only date back around 10 years, but the UW Credit Union has been part of the fabric of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for almost a hundred years as not a formal but an implicit partnership,” Johannes said.

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The first branch of the UW Credit Union emerged in Madison in the 1930s, Johannes said. When the first Union South was built, there was a room constructed for the UW Credit Union. Since then, the UW Credit Union’s sole purpose was the service of UW students and staff.

Because of the UW Credit Union’s deeply embedded presence in the UW campus, Johannes said, the organization gained years of experience in understanding its membership base and role in the campus community.

“The UW Credit Union understands campuses, it understands its needs, it understands the services that are needed and it knows how to produce them efficiently and cost-effectively,” Johannes said.

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Credit unions are made up of membership bases, and UW Credit Union’s membership base is comprised of students and staff on campus.

Johannes described the contract renewal as a mutually beneficial situation for the university and the credit union. The presence of UW Credit Union on campus provides a trustworthy banking institution for students and staff with the added benefit of no extra ATM fees, while its ties to the university also help increase membership.

“It’s sort of a partnership made in heaven because it meets the needs of both sides — the credit union gets members out of it and the campus gets services that are cost-effective and efficient and state of the art,” Johannes said.

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With the extension of the contract for an additional five years, the campus will continue to have the UW Credit Union as another revenue source while UW students will continue to have access to reliable banking services.

Specific perks which students and staff enjoy as members of the UW Credit Union include overdraft-free checking and zero ATM fees, along with a low-limit, unsecured credit card for students, according to UW News

UW Credit Union Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Anne Norman said 96% of the Credit Union’s members pay no monthly fees whatsoever.

“We pride ourselves on that because we know that when you’re getting started out and you don’t have a lot of money those fees can hurt a lot,” Norman said.

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Along with the financial perks, the physical presence of the credit union on campus helps make the banking experience that much easier for students and staff, Norman said.

Norman said because of the economic benefits and the practicality of the deal, along with a wide array of other contributing factors, the contract renewal was all but inevitable, and contains several policy updates.

“We’ve been partners of the university for over 10 years,” Norman said. “Now there’s new ways of connecting with students and connecting with the university that weren’t accounted for in the first contract.”

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Updates include offering more experiences to student members, such as VIP watch parties and events at the Union Theater once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Another change in the contract includes an increase in collaborative efforts between the UW Credit Union and UW on social media platforms.

Some other updated features of the partnership with the UW Credit Union on campus include member access to UW Credit Union’s app and technology like the Zelle feature, which allows members to send money to friends and family through the app and easily exchange cash, Norman said.

“But honestly, more than anything I feel that this new contract and this new partnership just helps bring UW Credit Union and UW-Madison closer in partnership and closer in serving students and our ability to evolve with the changing needs of students,” Norman said.