What is a Credit Union ?

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Credit unions are financial institutions formed by an organized group of people with a common bond. Members of credit unions pool their assets to provide loans and other financial services to each other.

Credit unions differ from other banks in several ways:

Credit Unions

Other Financial Institutions

Not-for-profit cooperatives

Owned by outside stockholders

Owned by members

Owned by outside stockholders

Operated by mostly volunteer boards

Controlled by paid boards


These factors allow credit unions to pay dividends to their members (not shareholders) and offer them lower loan rates, higher savings rates and fewer service fees.

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is the federal agency that charters and supervises federal credit unions. They also insure savings in federal and most state-chartered credit unions across the country through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), a federal fund backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.


This section of the CUNA website includes additional information about the history of credit unions, where to locate credit unions near you, and how you might be eligible to join.