Credit Unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives and are among the most stable financial institutions in America. They exist to serve the needs of their members (who are also owners) and offer the same types of banking products and services you would find at other financial institutions.
How are Banks and Credit Unions Different?
At credit unions, depositors are called members. Each member is an owner of the credit union.
Banks’ depositors are called customers. Customers have no ownership interest in the institution. Banks are owned by investors who may or may not be depositors.
In the entire history of U.S. credit unions, taxpayer funds have never been used to bail out a credit union.
The Savings & Loan bailout in the 1980s, as well as the more recent bank bailouts, used taxpayer dollars.
Credit unions’ boards are comprised of volunteers who reflect the diversity of the membership.
Banks’ board members are paid and do not necessarily reflect the diversity of their customer base.
Since credit union members are owners, each member, regardless of how much money they have on deposit, has one vote in electing board members. Members in good standing can also run for election to the board.
Banks are owned and controlled by stockholders, whose number of votes depends upon the number of shares owned. Customers don’t have voting rights, cannot be elected to the board, and have no say in how their bank is operated. Directors are selected by current directors or by large block stock acquisitions.
Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, whose earnings are paid back to members in the form of higher savings rates and lower loan rates.
Banks are for-profit corporations, with declared earnings paid to stockholders only.