What is a Credit Union and how is it different from a traditional bank?

What is a Credit Union and how is it different from a traditional bank

Credit Union different from a Traditional bank:  Credit unions and traditional banks differ not only in terms of products, services, and accessibility, but also in terms of who owns them. We discuss here what is Credit Union? what is a Bank ? and there differences. Credit Unions offer an alternative to traditional banks and other savings and loan organizations. Their interest rates may be higher than those generally found in banks. Here’s how to find a credit union, how they protect your money, and when you should use them. Banks and credit unions are both institutions designed to help you with your financial needs, but they are quite different in many ways.

What is a bank?

Banks are for-profit companies owned by shareholders or investors. Perhaps you are wondering what this means if you are a bank customer. In short: A bank’s profits are paid to shareholders as dividends, which means you don’t directly benefit from being a customer unless you own shares in the company.

What is a Credit Union?

1. Community savings and loan provider.

Traditionally, credit unions have been small non-profit financial organizations founded by a group of people with a common interest to benefit their community.

One common factor could be living in the same city, working in the same industry (for example, the Police Credit Union), or belonging to a particular union.

Credit unions are becoming more professional, utilizing new technologies to attract savers and offer loans to become more modern. Online banking is becoming more popular, and many credit unions have a physical location.

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2. Credit unions are for everyone.

Providing financial stability is the job of credit unions. Since there are no benefits for third parties, like shareholders, the idea is that the members benefit from each other.

Their goal is to assist those without access to conventional banking products. They are an excellent option for disadvantaged communities and people with serious financial problems. A payday loan can also be a viable alternative to a home title loan or payday loan.

3. Credit unions offer loans and savings accounts. Some even offer current accounts and mortgages.

Many Credit Unions don’t offer interest rates designed for large loans or savings, just a few do, so it’s always a good idea to do your research. Putting money into a Credit Union helps others in the community since credit unions must first receive money before they can lend it.

When you are looking for institutions that pay you more for your savings, compare what the credit union offers you with the rates of another institution.
Since the rates are currently at historical lows, you are sure to get good results from looking through the different options.

4. You may not always qualify for a credit union.

In general, in order to be part of a Credit Union, you have to share some common ground with the members, either by living in the same area or having the same profession.

Once you’re a member, you can participate in decision-making by attending general meetings and other member meetings. Occasionally, smaller credit unions may be looking for members who are involved in management and decision-making.

Even if the original link no longer exists for some reason, such as if you move house or change jobs, you will almost always be able to remain in the cooperative. Note that some cooperatives are not as flexible as larger ones. Credit unions have been accepting both individuals and organizations as members for some time, which broadens the range of members of the cooperative.

5. You can easily determine if you’re eligible to join a credit union.

You can find a credit union near you and best check what it offers by using a few different methods: In some countries there are Associations of Credit Unions whose websites allow you to search for the credit union closest to your home or the one with the most affinity for your profession (by zip code, by type of employment, or in other ways). 

6. They are non-profit, so your money is safe.

The goal of a credit union is to help you take control of your finances by encouraging you to save as much as possible and to borrow only what you can afford. It is essentially a savings and loan cooperative, in which members pool their savings to lend to one another and also help run the organization.

As a “not-for-profit” organization, the credit union only uses its cash to pay its members and fund its services. Unlike ordinary financial institutions, no money is dedicated to paying outside shareholders.

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Regarding Credit Union Loans

The biggest attraction of credit unions is that they are geared toward small loans, something most regular banks do not do. Some credit unions can provide cash the same day.

A few years ago, the first credit unions had a strict rule that they could only lend money to members who already had savings in the organization, but this is changing, and some cooperatives are now allowing loans to recently joined members.

Save with a Credit Union

Generally, you can save small or large amounts of money, either weekly, monthly, or whenever you have money to spare.

Online banking may even be available at larger credit unions, which allows you to make payments online. The majority of co-ops have branches and collection points like post offices, although some smaller ones are only open a few hours a week and are usually based in a community centre.

Saving account

Credit unions often offer dividend rates instead of interest rates. Since it depends on how well the credit union does that year, you don’t know what you’ll get for your savings until the end of the year.

Additionally, your performance will be determined by the country you live in. The dividend rate in the United Kingdom is 1-3%, but it can also be 0% or a maximum of 8% of the amount saved, depending on the circumstances.

Since dividends are paid before taxes, it is your responsibility to report any earnings. In the end, whether or not you have to pay tax on these dividends depends on the tax legislation in your country.

Fixed savings

Credit unions with thousands of members have recently started offering interest-bearing accounts like bank savings accounts. They will have a rate listed and possibly be called “AER” Annual Equivalent Rate.

There are some rates offered by these credit union accounts that may be worth it if you look carefully, but the returns are not the best.

How safe are my savings at a credit union?

Credit unions are small organizations without the resources of banks. However, the regulations imposed by control agencies tend to emphasize the fact that these cooperatives must be quite prudent in managing their funds.

As with any type of savings, the most important thing to consider is “is my money protected if the credit union goes bankrupt?” The answer is yes.

Savings of a credit union are usually protected by government entities that regulate them. In the United States of America, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has provided assistance to cooperatives since 1970.

In the United Kingdom, the money deposited in credit unions is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme up to an amount of 85,000 pounds per person per institution.

We suggest that you familiarize yourself with the controls and regulations imposed on cooperatives in the country where you are located in order to ensure your peace of mind.

If Credit Unions offer services other than loans?

If your credit union offers a bank account service, it will likely function much like a traditional bank account.

Since credit unions are non-profit organizations, you will have to pay a membership fee to open an account. This fee is normally very small. Paying for the account exempts you from paying late or making a mistake fees. Apart from that, credit union bank accounts work just like any other bank account.

A cooperative account will allow you to receive your salary payments, establish direct debits and permanent orders of the accounts, withdraw money from ATMs, and some cooperatives will issue debit cards so you can use them in stores.

The downside is you won’t have the option of an overdraft or a check book, so if this is what you need, you’re better off looking at traditional banking options.

The main differences to consider Savings banks, credit unions, and banks are

Savings banks, credit unions, and banks have very different owners. The ownership of a bank is held by its shareholders, while savings banks belong to their depositors, and credit unions to their cooperative members.

Savings banks are non-profit entities with a social purpose, for which they are required to make an allocation of their dividends to support the cause. Banks are public limited companies, while savings banks are non-profit organizations.

Credit cooperatives are private companies where their cooperative members are the ones who contribute capital to the entity. The workers and the customers are the cooperative members. Finally, the purpose of credit cooperatives is to serve the financial needs of their cooperative members and to achieve this, they engage in the activity of lending; that is, making credit available to others.

As a result, the management bodies of all of them are also different. A bank is governed by a Board of Directors elected by its shareholders. We already mentioned that the owners are their own shareholders, and the weight they have within the organization will directly depend on the number of shares they own. The more shares they own, the more votes they have at the meeting.

Savings banks are governed by a General Assembly, a Board of Directors, and a Control Commission.

In credit cooperatives, on the other hand, the cooperative members are responsible for making management decisions.

Associated savings and credit unions Traditional banks
Credit unions are not-for-profit companies owned by their members. Cooperative institutions pool their resources so that members can provide services to each other. Generally, banks are for-profit companies owned by shareholders. It provides a wide range of financial services in an efficient manner, which maximizes the profits of its shareholders.

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Pros and Cons of Credit unions

Pros of Credit Union

The benefits of working with a credit union over a bank go beyond more favourable rates and better customer service.

Minimum balance requirement is very low.

Most credit unions charge very low minimums, sometimes as low as $5-10, while the major banks charge high fees if your account falls below the required minimums.

The least restrictive eligibility requirements.

Unlike banks, many credit unions have fewer lending requirements, so if a bank has denied you a loan, a credit union is likely to be willing to help.

Funds are secure.

The benefits of investing in credit unions are similar to those of investing in banks – up to 250,000 USD of protection – but you also get lower interest rates and better service.

Cons of Credit unions

Although credit unions have a lot to offer, there are also reasons traditional banks are still around: credit unions aren’t for everyone. We describe some of the potential drawbacks of working with a credit union here:

Access Limited

Credit unions may not offer on-demand banking on your smartphone. Some credit unions do not provide the latest technologies for banking operations, although many are getting in touch.

ATMs are Fewer

Unlike national banks with ATMs everywhere, credit unions are typically locally based, with fewer branches in fewer communities. In general, you are allowed to use the existing ATM network for free.


Credit unions are typically focused on a specific community, such as local teachers. The eligibility requirements for cooperatives can be variable, while banks offer open eligibility.

Remember to choose a financial institution you can trust, and think about what you want them to do for you. Here’s what you need to know about Credit Union different from a Traditional bank. Let me know what you think. Please leave comment!!