Sign that says 'Credit Union' outside brick building. Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

Are you interested in an alternative option to banks?

A place where you can deposit your money or take out a loan, while having a say in the company and supporting your community?

Then consider joining a credit union along with 120 million other Americans.

What is a Credit Union?

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A credit union is a licensed financial institution, similar to a bank. Unlike banks, credit unions are member-owned, with membership limited to persons who meet eligibility requirements, and are, typically, community-focused.

What do they offer?

  • Saving and checking accounts

  • Credit cards

  • Loans

  • Insurance

  • Investment services

How Does a Credit Union Differ from a Bank?

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While credit unions are similar to banks, engaging in financial transactions like deposits and loans, there are some differences

Credit Union

  • Not-for-profit, member-owned

  • Members have voting rights on credit union decisions as shareholders

  • Eligibility requirements to enroll

  • Better interest rates and lower fees

  • Often smaller and local, meaning more community focus

  • Offers more personalized services


  • For-profit

  • Profits go to shareholders (investors), not you (the customer)

  • Fewer requirements for joining

  • More locations and access to ATMs

  • More products and services

  • Better online and mobile services


Sarah is looking to take out a loan to start a small local business. She's new to owning a business and taking out loans. Which option might be best for Sarah to explore?

Finding the Right One!

Kitten looking around with text saying 'So Many Choices...'.

Finding a credit union (or bank) can be overwhelming, but by making a list of your requirements, and those of the credit union's, you can easily narrow your options down.

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  1. Research credit unions in your area. The National Credit Union Association's (NCUA) website lets you search for credit unions by location. While credit union membership is often based on location, there are many options that are available from anywhere in the US.

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  1. Check their eligibility and application requirements. Eligibility requirements and application processes may vary depending on the credit union. You may need to pay a small fee to open an account or deposit a minimum amount.

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  1. Check out their offered services. Services offered by credit unions differ depending on the credit union and its membership base.

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Joining a Credit Union

Moira from Schitt's Creek saying 'What Exactly is Required of Me?'

To join a credit union, you must fit into their "field of membership".

These requirements are typically based on:

  • residence in a specific community or area

  • employed by a specific company or industry (for example, the government)

  • a shared common background (such as ex-military or religious affiliation)

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To apply (online or in person), you'll generally need to provide a few documents. These may vary between credit unions. Generally, you'll need:

  • A government issued ID such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or Social Security card

  • A second form of identification such as a bill with your name

  • Your Social Security number to report interest earned for tax purposes

  • Any information that identifies you fit in the field of membership, such as an employment agreement or proof of address

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If you're under 18, you may need a parent or guardian to be a joint owner of your account, or they may need to co-sign for some services.

Take Action

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Image by pch.vector on Freepik


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