What is a Credit Union

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions that offer many of the same products and services as banks—including savings and checking accounts, loans, ATMs, and online and mobile banking. But, unlike other financial institutions, credit unions are owned and controlled by their members, offering better rates and lower fees.

Credit unions are safe and sound places to bank. Every credit union is regulated and examined consistently by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)— the U.S. government agency—or a state credit union government agency, ensuring the safety and soundness of its operations. The NCUA insures deposits up to at least $250,000.

It’s easier to become a credit union member than you think. One misconception about credit unions is the only way to join is through a group, such as your school or job. Some even think you have to belong to a union. Though there are credit unions that serve particular jobs, schools, and even unions, you can join one even if none of this applies to you. There may be a credit union serving your neighborhood! Or, you may be eligible through a family member, community group, association, or place of worship. Almost anyone can join a credit union. Use our locator to find a credit union near you.

Members Own the Credit Union
A credit union is a democratic, member-owned cooperative. So when you join a credit union, you’re more than a member; you’re an owner.

A volunteer board of directors, elected by the members, governs a credit union. With the one-member, one-vote philosophy, each member has a direct impact on the direction of the credit union. Every credit union member gets an equal say. This is very different from a bank, where stockholders vote according to the number of shares of stock they own.