Imagine there's no credit union.

It doesn't take much imagination to realize that vision could become reality--if credit union members sit on the sidelines. That's because, right now, credit union members and the rights and services they enjoy are under the heaviest pressure ever from some bankers and banking trade associations. They'd like to eliminate credit unions, period.

Imagine there are no credit unions, and see what might happen to two consumers.

* Isaiah struggles to pay off school loans and charges about $150 a month on his credit card to make ends meet. He missed a few payments, which bumped up his interest rate. At a credit union, his interest rate may be 12%, but if he had that same credit card at a bank, with the same $3,000 balance, his rate may be 25%. With no credit unions, Isaiah pays $1,349 more in interest and fees.

* Hector and Alicia saved for a small down payment to purchase their first house, but it was less than 20% of the purchase price so they must pay private mortgage insurance. At a credit union, the fees may be about $600, but if they had that same home loan at a bank, with the same interest rate and monthly payment, the fees may be $2,500. With no credit unions, Hector and Alicia pay $1,900 more over the life of the loan.

Remember, if credit unions aren't there to put competitive pressure on banks to lower their fees, banks can charge what they wish.

When the people at your credit union ask for your help, count your own credit union benefits and pitch in.