What Is a Credit Union?
In the United States, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than to maximize corporate profits. Like banks, credit unions accept deposits and make loans. But as member-owned institutions, credit unions focus on providing a safe place to save and borrow at reasonable rates. Unlike banks, credit unions return surplus income to their members in the form of dividends.
Favorable Rates and Customer Service
Fees and loan rates at credit unions are generally lower, while interest rates returned are generally higher, than banks and other for-profit institutions. Credit unions are democratically operated by members, allowing account holders an equal say in how the credit union is operated, regardless of how much they have invested in the credit union.
Each institution decides who it will serve. In order to join a credit union, potential members must be part of a field of membership, which is typically based on one’s employment, community, or membership in an association or organization. Credit unions serve members of modest means. Low-income credit unions provide financial services at reasonable rates in areas that are often underserved by banks.
National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Share Insurance Coverage
Federally insured credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 increased the share insurance coverage on all federally insured credit union accounts up to $250,000.