Credit Unions vs. Banks: The Choice is Clear
Obviously, banks and credit unions offer a lot of overlapping services. Both banks and credit unions take in deposits, administer checking and savings accounts, issue credit and debit cards, and provide home loans in addition to consumer loans.
The key difference: Ownership structure
Banks are corporations – owned by their stockholders. Typically, and especially with larger banks, these shareholders are Wall Street institutions. However, there are many smaller neighborhood and regional banks with more local ownership. Credit Unions, on the other hand, aren’t owned by stockholders on Wall Street; we’re owned by our members on the local Main Street!
True, neither banks nor credit unions are in business to lose money. We both need to make profits on our goods and services to stay in business. The difference is this: When a bank makes money, they send their profits to their stockholders. When a credit union makes a profit, on the other hand, we pass it on to our members. This can be in the form of a dividend or credit, better rates, technological investments and a variety of actions that bring greater value to members of the cooperative. And because we’re not so focused on pleasing distant shareholders through issuing a dividend every quarter, we can frequently offer services and loans with lower costs than banks.
Our mutual ownership structure gives us another advantage too: Wall Street can’t pressure us to make unwise decisions for short-term gains at the expense of our membership. Every decision we make is solely in the long-term best interest of our shareholders.
Do you want to be part of the credit union movement?