Why Credit Unions Are Different
Credit unions are different from other financial institutions in many important ways—from the reasons to join to the safety of your money to who actually owns the credit union! We at lovemycreditunion.org think everyone deserves the chance to find a credit union, fall in love and join a credit union. But we realize that before you’re willing to commit, you need all the facts.
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—and that means you have a say in how your credit union is run.
A volunteer board of directors, elected by the members, governs a credit union. With their vote, each member has a direct impact on the direction of the credit union. As part of the democratic process, each credit union holds an annual election where members select candidates for the Board of Directors. This is very different from a bank, where stockholders vote according to the number of shares of stock they own.
Credit unions provide the same products and services as other financial institutions—but credit unions are not-for-profit and exist to help people, not to make a profit. As such, all earnings are returned to their members in the form of high-interest savings and low rate loans.
This also enables credit unions to operate at a lower cost than many for-profit institutions, and helps them to offer competitive loan and savings rates to their members.
Credit unions follow conservative investment practices and lend responsibly and live within their financial means, so you can trust your credit union's decisions.
Credit Unions Put People First
Credit unions live by the philosophy of "People Helping People.”
Credit unions across the country are committed to their communities, offering financial services to underserved populations, engaging youth in financial education, and returning profits to their members.
While they are not mandated to do good works, as banks are, by the Community Reinvestment Act, credit unions serve their communities to strengthen the connection with members and improve the quality of life for those in need of financial services. The National Credit Union Foundation coordinates the “Real Solutions” program, which supports community reinvestment programs in 33 states.
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