Credit union to open next summer

James Fenton
Workers continue construction at the future location of the U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union on Thursday at the corner of Pinon Hills Boulevard and Main Street in Farmington.

FARMINGTON – Construction is underway for a new U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union branch north of the intersection at East Main Street and Piñon Hills Boulevard.

The credit union — which also has branches in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Bernalillo — expects to open the doors of the new branch at 5600 E. Main St. next summer.

In 2012, U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union opened its sixth branch and first in Farmington at 3024 E. Main St. near Dunkin' Donuts. When the new location opens, the old branch, which occupies rented space, will close, and the seven or eight employees there will staff the new location.

The credit union was formerly called U.S. New Mexico Federal Credit Union, but in March, the financial institution's board voted to change the name and logo to match the way members referred to the credit union as "The Eagle," according to Alan Varela, U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union's vice president for strategic development.

"The eagle has always been part of our icon, our logo," Varela said in a phone interview on Thursday. "And that's how our members constantly referred to us."

Teller Johana Perez, left, helps a customer at the counter on Thursday at the U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union location on East Main Street in Farmington.

President and CEO Marsha Majors said the credit union plans to be a mainstay in the Four Corners region.

"This new regional branch will help us serve more people who need credit union products and services," Majors said in a Nov. 4 press release. "This permanent facility gives the Four Corners community confidence that we are here for the long run. We can provide more services and establish longstanding relationships with our members and help them succeed financially."

Varela said credit unions are an alternative to payday lenders.

"San Juan County met the federal definitions for an underserved area," Varela said. "A lot of that was driven by average income level and the high volume of payday lenders. We provide an affordable, conscientious alternative to payday lending. We’re a financial co-op, so our business model is to help people end the cycle of poverty, build up their credit, build their savings and get them back on their feet."

Customer Melissa Barela waits at the counter on Thursday at the U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union location on East Main Street in Farmington.

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions that give net profits back to their members in the form of added or free services, better returns on savings and lower loan rates.

Varela said the credit union, which offers free memberships to people who open a savings account with at least a $5 balance, also provides free credit counseling and financial literacy services.

U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union has about 2,000 members in San Juan County, Varela said.

The credit union currently offers interest rates on vehicle loans for as low 1.59 percent and annual percentage rates on Visa credit card balances as low as 6.9 percent without annual fees, he said.

And members will also have added room when banking behind the wheel. The new branch will offer members extra-wide drive-through lanes big enough to handle oil and gas fleet vehicles and oversized four-by-four trucks, Varela said.

U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union is the oldest credit union in the state and was founded in 1935. It has 80,000 members and more than $850 million in assets, Varela said.

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.