Benefits of ownership include better rates on deposits and loans and better service. Regardless of their size or field of membership, credit unions are different than for-profit financial institutions. Credit unions exist to serve their members. Banks and other financial institutions exist to make money for their stockholders.
Credit unions are member-owned
A credit union is a cooperative financial institution, owned and controlled by the members who use its services. Credit unions serve groups that share a common bond, such as where they work, live or go to church. Credit unions are also not-for-profit and exist to provide a safe, convenient place for members to save money and to get loans and other financial services at reasonable rates.
These are cooperative financial institutions that provide many of the same financial services that banks do, savings and checking accounts, youth and senior accounts, loans for a variety of purposes, insurance, convenient services to access and send funds and more. In essence they are mutual organizations operated entirely by and for their members.
While for-profit institutions must make profits for their shareholders
In a credit union any earnings in excess of operational costs are returned to the members in the form of increased interest on savings, decreased rates on loans or other new and improved services.
Credit unions are uniquely different from their for-profit financial counterparts and offer their members special advantages such as:
Each member of a credit union is an equal owner of that credit union and is entitled to one vote at the annual meeting, regardless of how much money he or she has deposited in the credit union.
Because credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, they are usually able to offer lower loan rates, higher savings rates and lower fees than their for-profit counterparts.
Credit unions are led by a board of directors elected from the membership at the annual meeting. Board members are volunteers and are not compensated.
Surveys repeatedly show members are more satisfied with the service they receive from their credit union than customers of banks or savings and loans are with their institutions. Because credit unions are democratic, member-owned cooperatives, members have the power to direct credit union policy. If the majority of members are dissatisfied with the directors who set the policies of their credit union, they have the power to replace them. Credit union elections are based on a one-member, one-vote structure. This structure is in contrast to for-profit, public companies where stockholders vote according to the number of shares they own.
Funds Deposit by members in their Credit Unions are regulated by State and Federal Agencies and are Insured by The National Credit Union Administration, an agency of the U.S. Government, to $250,000.
Credit unions are part of an international movement representing 100 countries and 37,000 credit unions with over 112 million members world wide.