Credit Union FAQs
Below you'll find answers to the questions we get asked most often about credit unions.
Credit unions are full-service financial institutions that can help you realize all your financial goals. Members have access to the same products, services, and benefits that are offered by other financial institutions. Where credit unions differ is that they are not-for-profit financial cooperatives owned by and operated for the benefit of the members they serve. Credit unions serve their members, not Wall Street investors.
Credit unions are cooperatives, or an organized group of people with some common bond. Examples of a common bond may be your employer, the community in which you live, a faith-based organization, school, or military, just to name a few. Credit unions generally operate under government charter and supervision and members elect a board of directors to manage the credit union to ensure that their best interests are represented.
The National Credit Union Administration publishes the most recent interest rates. Keep in mind that rates near you will vary by institution, and they fluctuate often.
Credit unions also support their local communities through work such as offering financial education, serving underserved populations, volunteering, and contributing to community initiatives.
Yes. There is a credit union for everyone. You can qualify to join a credit union based on things such as where you live, work, worship, or go to school, and membership in a club or association. Each credit union has its own “field of membership” (a specifically defined group of people they serve). You just need to find one for you.
Learn more about field of membership and how you can become a member here.
Credit unions return earnings to members in the form of higher interest rates on savings products, lower interest rates on loans and credit cards, and added services. Some credit unions even distribute dividends to members.
Member-Owned and Operated
A credit union’s board of directors is elected by the members, and each member has an equal vote.
Members are the owners, so credit unions place a heavy emphasis on excellent customer service, financial education, and community involvement. See what Consumer Reports has to say about credit union customer service.
Credit unions offer mobile banking and large, robust ATM and branch networks that make it easy for members to access their money anytime, anywhere.
In addition to this, several independent researchers have found that credit unions have a moderating influence on bank pricing raising bank deposit interest rates and lowering bank loan rates. Based on this research, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) estimates that bank customers saved $5.2 billion in 2020 from more favorable bank pricing arising from the presence of credit unions in their local markets. Since 2007, those non-member financial benefits have totaled approximately $39.4 billion.
Collectively, credit unions pay more than $20 billion in taxes annually.
Credit unions are required by law to have a "field of membership." This field of membership is a specific group of people the credit union serves. Examples of field of membership include:
- Geographic Area
- Employee group
- Military and government agencies
- Club or Association
This requirement creates what is known as a common bond among members. Learn more about field of membership and how you can become a member here.
Credit unions are comprised of people helping people – they have an interest in supporting and advancing their communities. They work hard to improve members’ savings; help them invest in their homes, businesses, and education; and secure a stronger financial future.
Check out the impact credit unions make in your state here.