About / FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
On the outside, banks and credit unions may appear to be the same. Why shouldn’t they? They both offer checking and savings accounts, loans, online banking, and other products and services to meet your financial needs. Underneath, however, banks and credit unions are fundamentally different.
Banks are usually owned by a private party, or owned by investors. Their purpose is to make a profit for their investors, who may not even bank there. Credit unions are owned by the members who do their business at their credit union. Those members each have a vote in credit union business, such as who sits on the volunteer board, where a new branch may be opened, and more.
Because credit unions are member-owned, you often see an emphasis on customer service. Credit unions and community banks are often credited for putting people first, and being heavily involved in their communities. This is a huge asset if you are looking to bank where you’re a person, not a number.
You may have heard that you should visit a credit union for a better rate on your car loan. Since credit unions are not-for-profit, they use the money they make to support their membership. This trickles down to their members through lower fees, free accounts, and, yes—better rates on loans and deposits. Credit union members get their piece of the pie!
You can visit us any time. We can apply for a pre-approval, purchase, or refinance at any time.
Anyone can bank at a bank! A bank’s customer base is generally not limited. Credit unions are unique in that they are specific to certain terms—you have to live, attend school, work, or worship in a certain community they serve, work for a sponsor company, or support a specific charity. Don’t let this deter you from trying a credit union—eligibility is fairly flexible and most communities have an established credit union. And, once you’re a member, you are always a member!
One thing to keep in mind is where you want to do your banking. Both banks and credit unions offer robust services, such as ATMs, online banking, and mobile apps. Large banks have branches spread out through their operating area, which can be as wide as the country, or the world. Since credit unions and community banks are smaller, their branch availability may be more limited. Many credit unions, however, cooperate with one another to allow their members to bank at other credit unions to enhance branch availability.
Financial safety is a huge concern for a lot of people—and you don’t have to worry. Both banks and credit unions are typically insured up to $250,000 per account, by federal agencies called the FDIC and NCUA. Some banks and credit unions even purchase additional insurance to offer greater coverage to their customers and members.
It is up to everyone to take the time to decide—what is your best fit? A national bank with branches everywhere? A community bank where anyone can join? Or a local credit union, where they put people before profit?