Ascend Federal Credit Union, Tullahoma, Tenn., on Monday said it will return $5 million to its members this year in the form of bonus dividends and loan interest refunds.

Including the 2017 amount, the $2.1 billion credit union said its 13-year total member return is more than $71.5 million. The 2017 bonus dividends and loan interest refunds will appear on members’ December statements.

According to Caren Gabriel, Ascend FCU’s president and CEO, as in previous years, this year’s return is based on a member’s relationship with Ascend. The more loans a member has with the credit union, the greater his or her loan interest refund, and the more savings he or she has, the greater his or her bonus dividend.

“We know people have a choice of financial service providers, and on behalf of our board, I want to thank Ascend’s members for their continued business,” Gabriel said in a statement. “Ascend’s member return is the perfect example of what a financial cooperative should be doing – sharing the success of the business by returning money to the people who make it successful.”

The member return is never guaranteed, but Gabriel said it is something Ascend’s board strives for each year. She said the member return is a key differentiator between Ascend and its competitors.

“Banks, payday lenders – and many credit unions – do not return money to their customers,” Gabriel said.

With $2.1 billion in assets, more than 177,000 members and more than 500 employees, Ascend is the largest credit union in Middle Tennessee and one of the largest federally chartered credit unions in the United States.