People all over the world belong to credit unions, including over 91 million members in the United States. Because credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions, their focus is serving the financial needs of their members and not making a profit. On the whole, credit unions typically offer higher rates on savings, fewer fees, and lower rates on loans. Here's what you can expect from a credit union:
Credit unions provide personal service designed to help members grow their savings, pay off debt, and plan for the future.
Credit unions are member-owned and operated, not-for-profit organizations. This enables them to fairly price products and services as well as offer competitive interest rates. See Credit Union and Bank Rate Data.
As groups with a common geographic area, workplace or other association, members often have shared interests and appreciate participating in an institution designed to help other members.
Credit unions tend to offer fewer and sometimes reduced fees for their products and services compared to those of other financial service institutions due to their not-for-profit, cooperative structure.
Credit unions have been able to keep pace with the needs of their members by offering a variety of products and services in addition to savings and consumer loans, including:
- Direct deposit
- Financial education/counseling
- Electronic banking
- ACH origination
- Overdraft protection
- Home equity loans
- Mortgage loans
- Member business loans
Most credit unions either offer free access to a large network of ATMs or provide reimbursement for fees incurred when using other institutions' machines.
Credit unions return surplus income to their members in the form of dividends.
Through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), the funds of all federal and most state-chartered credit union members are insured up to $250,000 per individual depositor, per federally-insured credit union.
Accessible to Most Americans
To join a credit union, you must be eligible for membership. Members of each credit union share a "common bond," such as being employed by the same employer, belonging to an organization or church, or living in the same community. Some credit unions serve multiple groups with different common bonds. Each credit union determines the specific group or field of membership it will serve.