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The difference between a bank and a credit union? Pros & Cons

Do you want to discover how credit unions vs bank goods and services differ? It all comes down to a few crucial characteristics. Credit unions are non-profit organizations that need you to be a member to conduct business with them. While credit unions generally have reduced fees and better rates, banks may offer a broader range of financial products.

Credit unions and banks provide comparable services, but their business models are different.

Banks and credit unions are financial entities that provide goods and services to help you manage your money, such as checking accounts and loans. On the other hand, a credit union is a nonprofit that only provides services and goods to its member-owners. While a commercial bank is a for-profit entity that anyone may do business with. Nonprofit credit unions offer services and products to their member-owners.

While these two institutions provide many similar services, they function differently. The table below summarizes the key differences between a credit union and a bank’s goods and services.


  • Institutions that are for-profit and are either privately held or publicly traded.
  • There is no need to join.
  • Savings loan rates are often lower, and fees are generally greater.
  • It might be either national or local.
  • Typically, they provide a wide range of financial goods.
  • The FDIC provides deposit insurance.

Credit unions

  • Are a type of cooperative financial institution.
  • Members own non-profit entities.
  • It is necessary to become a member.
  • Savings rates and fees are frequently higher.
  • It might be either national or local.
  • The financial products available may be more limited.
  • The NCUA provides deposit insurance.

The similarities and differences between banks and credit unions

If you’re a regular consumer trying to open a bank account, you’ll most likely find what you need at a bank or a credit union.

Here are some products and services that both credit unions and banks are likely to provide.

  • Savings and checking accounts
  • Accounts in the money market
  • Home equity lines of credit
  • Loans for automobiles
  • Loans for small businesses
  • Credit cards are accepted.

Direct deposit, mobile banking, ATMs, and overdraft protection are commonly available at banks and credit unions. While some larger banks may have more extensive ATM networks, some credit unions cover fees levied by ATMs outside their network, allowing you to withdraw money for free in more places.

Deposits at most credit unions and banks are also protected, with up to $250,000 in deposited cash covered against loss. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures banks. Federal Credit. In contrast, credit unions are certified by the National Credit Union Administration. Look for a genuine NCUSIF or FDIC-insured sign to confirm that your institution is federally insured. Alternatively, you can utilize the FDIC’s BankFind Tool or the NCUA’s Credit Union Locator.

The differences in products and services offered by credit unions and banks

While both financial organizations usually offer the same goods and services to their bank customers, there is a significant difference between credit unions and banks. It all comes down to how they operate and why they exist.

Nonprofit vs. for-profit: what’s the difference?

Banks are for-profit enterprises. And most of them are profitable. In the second quarter of 2018, FDIC-insured institutions earned $60.2 billion in net income. Banks pay taxes on their earnings, and many of them are publicly listed firms with paid board members.

Credit unions are tax-exempt since they are not-for-profit organizations. Some even receive financial assistance from the groups that support them.

Because banks want to earn a profit and must pay taxes, they frequently charge more outstanding fees and pay lower rates to customers than credit unions. On the other hand, credit unions are dedicated to assisting their members. Credit unions distribute earnings to members in various ways, including reduced interest rates on loans, cheaper fees, and more excellent savings account rates. If the credit union has extra money, it may issue dividends to its members.

Members-only vs. no-requirement membership

Most banks will do business with someone who has never had a banking problem. Credit unions are unique in that they are not open to everyone. A credit union is a cooperative made up of people who have something in common, such as working in the same industry, belonging to the same religious organization, or living in the same neighborhood.

You can’t just go into any credit union and start banking there; you must be eligible first. Some credit unions have strict membership requirements, while others welcome anybody willing to pay a membership fee.

Credit union members usually elect a volunteer board of directors to run the credit union. Because the board is generally made up of members who also bank at the credit union, the board’s primary focus is on serving the community’s needs rather than producing profits for outside stockholders.

More services vs. personalized service

Credit union members sometimes receive more personalized service than major banks since they are part of a community. For example, may be more ready to authorize loans for their members and offer financial education and outreach.

The credit unions are frequently smaller than national banks since members must have a common bond, and as a result, they may not be able to provide as many goods. Not all credit unions, for example, offer business loans.

Their modest size may also limit the number of branches each credit union has — however, hundreds of credit unions have already teamed together to provide shared branch services and shared ATMs, allowing members to do business at credit unions throughout the country as if they were at home.

Which is the best option for you?

While the advantages of credit unions appear to make them the apparent victor over banks, each bank and credit union must finally be assessed on its own merits. Some massive national credit unions may offer less personalized service than smaller community banks. In contrast, others may be so small that they don’t provide essential modern services, such as mobile banking.

Consider what’s essential to you and analyze the differences between a credit union and bank services before deciding where to keep your financial ties. Examine fees, minimum deposit requirements, daily balance requirements, interest provided on savings accounts against the interest charged on loans, and the reputation of the specific financial institution.

In conclusion

Credit unions and banks offer comparable services, but they are not identical. They often offer more personalized service and allow you to participate in the financial institution’s management. And also provide more competitive rates, cheaper fees, and a more straightforward lending procedure because they are charities. On the other hand, credit unions may have fewer services than banks because they aren’t typically as large.


student loans, credit score

Jason Rathman