Credit score Unions vs. Banks – Variations, Execs & Cons

Banks and credit score unions have a good quantity in frequent. Each present comparatively secure locations to carry money for spending and saving. Each make loans and prolong strains of credit score. And each present primary monetary providers, like reducing financial institution checks.

But these two forms of monetary establishments are something however interchangeable. Credit score unions aren’t higher than conventional banks, nor vice versa. As a substitute, every has strengths and weaknesses you might want to perceive earlier than opening that first deposit account or making use of for a mortgage with a brand new monetary establishment.

The Variations Between Banks & Credit score Unions

Probably the most influential distinction is that banks are for-profit and about earning money and credit score unions are nonprofit and about buyer advantages. These variations trickle all the way down to influence all the things the group does. Banks exist to counterpoint their shareholders. Credit score unions exist to serve prospects, who’re additionally part-owners of the group. 

Banks and credit score unions are inclined to differ in different methods as nicely, although the strains typically blur they usually have tons in frequent as nicely. For instance, most banks and credit score unions provide checking and financial savings accounts and make loans to customers and companies. 

However there are sufficient variations between the standard financial institution and the standard credit score union to warrant a side-by-side comparability.

Banks Vs Credit Unions 4 1

Execs & Cons of Banks

Each financial institution is completely different, however many share upsides like handy department and ATM places, few eligibility restrictions for candidates, and higher expertise. Many additionally share downsides like greater charges, decrease rates of interest, and poor customer support. 


  • Extra comfort on common
  • Extra product and repair alternative
  • Few eligibility restrictions
  • Higher expertise
  • FDIC insurance coverage as much as $250,000


  • Might have greater charges
  • Rates of interest is probably not aggressive
  • Might put shareholders forward of shoppers
  • Customer support could be poor


The standard financial institution is extra handy and accessible than the standard credit score union. Many banks provide a variety of deposit accounts, mortgage varieties, and different monetary providers as nicely.

  1. Digital and real-world comfort. Although some neighborhood banks have only a handful of branches, banks as a complete are inclined to have extra branches, extra ATMs, and extra comfort typically. Branchless on-line banks are extra frequent than on-line credit score unions as nicely.
  2. Broader lineup of services and products. Banks have a tendency to supply extra account and mortgage selection. Many additionally provide nonbanking providers like monetary planning and wealth administration.
  3. Anybody can apply. Most banks have few restrictions on eligibility. Usually, anybody over 18 with a U.S. handle can apply.
  4. Higher expertise. Although smaller banks could be behind the curve technologically, banks as a complete usually tend to have state-of-the-art on-line and cell apps which are simple to make use of.
  5. Deposit insurance coverage. Federally insured banks have FDIC insurance coverage not less than as much as the present restrict of $250,000. Search for the “member FDIC” emblem on the financial institution’s web site or at a department.


Banks typically have greater charges and fewer aggressive rates of interest than credit score unions, although there are numerous exceptions. As a result of they exist to show a revenue and reward shareholders who is probably not prospects, banks are usually much less customer-friendly general.

  1. Potential for greater charges. Banks as a complete have a fame for charging greater charges general, and for hidden “junk” charges that enhance the price of doing enterprise with them. Not all banks are responsible of this, however it’s a widespread follow.
  2. Much less aggressive rates of interest. Conventional banks are inclined to pay decrease rates of interest on financial savings accounts and cost greater rates of interest on loans. On-line banks are higher on this regard, however many shoppers aren’t comfy with online-only banks but.
  3. Give attention to shareholders earlier than prospects. Banks are for-profit establishments whose highest precedence is maximizing shareholder worth. Even neighborhood banks want to show a revenue, which impacts their capacity to serve particular person prospects and communities at giant.
  4. Potential for poor customer support. Many conventional banks have notoriously dangerous customer support, not less than for normal prospects with out big balances. It’s typically tough or unattainable to get a consultant on the cellphone or get them to repair the issue when you do.

Execs & Cons of Credit score Unions

Credit score unions are nonprofits that are usually smaller and extra narrowly targeted on particular geographies or teams of individuals than banks. That has benefits and drawbacks for his or her prospects.


  • Doubtlessly extra aggressive rates of interest
  • Give attention to prospects (who’re additionally shareholders)
  • Potential for decrease charges
  • Extra personalised service
  • Nationwide Credit score Union Administration insurance coverage as much as $250,000


  • Much less availability and comfort
  • Extra restrictions on membership
  • Much less alternative of services and products
  • Technological limitations


Credit score unions are usually extra customer-friendly than banks, each when it comes to the service they supply and the general price of doing enterprise with them.

  1. Potential for extra aggressive rates of interest. Credit score unions’ rates of interest are usually extra aggressive. Meaning they pay greater rates of interest on financial savings balances and cost decrease charges on loans. That mentioned, most credit score unions can’t compete with on-line banks’ charges.
  2. Potential for decrease charges. Credit score unions cost fewer junk charges and have decrease charges general than most banks. For instance, whereas few conventional banks provide really free checking accounts, most credit score unions do.
  3. Extra more likely to put prospects and neighborhood earlier than revenue. As nonprofits owned by their prospects, credit score unions naturally put prospects and their communities first. They’re not single-mindedly targeted on maximizing shareholder worth.
  4. Extra personalised service. Credit score unions typically have higher customer support than banks. Their representatives are simpler to achieve and higher at fixing issues.
  5. Deposit insurance coverage. Federally insured credit score unions have NCUA insurance coverage as much as $250,000. Although not as broadly generally known as FDIC insurance coverage, NCUA protection is basically the identical.


Many credit score unions lack greater banks’ sources and experience, which makes them much less interesting to prospects in search of comfort and the newest expertise. 

  1. Much less handy and broadly accessible. Many credit score unions are small, with small numbers of branches clustered in slender geographical areas. Even when they permit fee-free withdrawals from ATMs in nationwide networks, they’re much less handy and accessible general.
  2. Extra restrictions on membership. All credit score unions impose some membership restrictions past requiring candidates to be U.S. adults. In some instances, these restrictions are strict, similar to requiring all members to work for a selected employer.
  3. Fewer services and products on common. Although some provide nonbanking providers like wealth administration, most credit score unions deal with primary banking providers like checking and financial savings accounts, mortgages, and automobile loans.
  4. Technological limitations. Smaller credit score unions are particularly more likely to be behind the curve. Many nonetheless don’t have cell apps, and on-line account entry could be glitchy and clunky.

Ought to You Select a Financial institution or Credit score Union? 

Banks and credit score unions each have their place. Many customers and enterprise house owners use each, maybe turning to an internet financial institution for a brilliant high-yield financial savings account whereas paying their low-rate credit score union mortgage.

However for those who choose to do all of your banking with one monetary establishment, otherwise you solely have the bandwidth for one new banking relationship proper now, you would possibly want to decide on one or the opposite. 

When to Select a Financial institution

A financial institution makes extra sense for those who prize comfort, product alternative, and expertise over customer support.

  • You desire a one-stop monetary establishment. Banks usually tend to provide an exhaustive listing of services and products. Meaning less-common deposit account and mortgage choices in addition to nonbanking providers like wealth administration and monetary planning.
  • You don’t need to soar by any eligibility hoops. Banks aren’t as choosy about who they permit to open an account. The commonest restrictions contain geography; some banks solely settle for functions from residents of states the place they function.
  • You desire a high-tech monetary companion. Whereas some smaller banks are behind the occasions, banks as a complete usually tend to have state-of-the-art on-line banking and cell apps, plus modern tech options to generate income administration simpler. 

When to Select a Credit score Union

A credit score union is extra more likely to pair a pleasant, personalised expertise with higher pricing on loans and deposit accounts.

  • You need wonderful mortgage charges with out purchasing round. Most credit score unions have aggressive charges on frequent mortgage varieties, similar to dwelling loans and automobile loans. You possibly can in all probability discover a higher deal by purchasing round, however for those who’d choose to not take the time, a credit score union provides you a greater shot at a good-enough price.
  • You search useful, personalised service. Credit score unions typically provide friendlier, extra hands-on, extra educated service and assist. That’s a plus for those who’re not comfy answering your individual monetary questions.
  • You desire a sense of neighborhood and shared goal. One upside to their membership restrictions is credit score unions’ sense of shared goal and neighborhood. Credit score unions are inclined to focus their lending actions within the communities they serve and should present free or low-cost monetary training to members and nonmembers alike.


Banks and credit score unions have many options in frequent, however it’s essential to grasp what units them aside. These are a number of the commonest questions that come up for patrons selecting between the 2.

Are Banks Safer Than Credit score Unions? 

On the entire, banks aren’t any safer than credit score unions. They’re no much less secure both. Federally insured banks and credit score unions each defend buyer deposits not less than as much as $250,000 per buyer, per possession sort. Some insure deposits as much as even greater limits.

That safety ensures you gained’t lose lined funds held in a federally insured monetary establishment ought to that establishment fail. When selecting a financial institution or credit score union, search for the “member FDIC” or “member NCUA” emblem. Keep away from opening accounts with uninsured banks or credit score unions.

How Straightforward Is It to Be part of a Credit score Union?

Though credit score unions as a complete have loosened their membership necessities over time, rather a lot nonetheless relies on the person credit score union. 

Traditionally, credit score unions required members to have clear frequent bonds, similar to residence in the identical geographical space or membership in the identical skilled affiliation or union. These days, many credit score unions are basically open to all, due to easy-to-meet membership necessities like paying a nominal charge to hitch a selected nonprofit group.

Some credit score unions proceed to restrict membership in ways in which is probably not apparent at first although. For instance, a credit score union that’s open to members of a serious labor union might have an internet software course of that seems to just accept candidates from everywhere in the U.S. However you continue to must show that you just’re a dues-paying union member as a part of that software.

Do Credit score Unions Have Cell Banking Apps?

Regardless of the business’s fame as being behind the occasions technologically, many credit score unions now have complete, easy-to-use cell apps or mobile-responsive on-line banking portals. 

For those who anticipate to have the ability to handle your funds on the go, make sure that any credit score union you’re contemplating has a very good cell presence. That’s not a given at smaller credit score unions, which regularly lack the sources or technical know-how to create and keep cell apps (and even redesign their web sites for cell gadgets).

Last Phrase

You possibly can open an account or apply for a mortgage at your native credit score union if you have already got a conventional or on-line checking account, and vice versa. Tens of millions of individuals have relationships with each forms of establishments, and it’s greatest to not rule out both.

Nonetheless, it’s useful to grasp the important thing variations between banks and credit score unions as a result of there are numerous situations the place one actually is best than the opposite. If you need your deposits to fund small-business loans in your hometown, your native credit score union is a greater match than a megabank like Citi or Chase. For those who want a slick cell app filled with the newest in monetary expertise, an internet financial institution with a fame for innovation makes probably the most sense.