Credit Unions are different than Banks

Posted by Excite Credit Union on Mar 15, 2023 10:49:51 AM

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Excite is not only a credit union, but for over 70 years, we have been the community’s credit union, prioritizing our Members and committed to our community. So, what is a credit union, how do they differ from banks, and why  is that important? 

Credit Unions are Different Than Banks. 

Banks and credit unions are similar in many ways. Both accept deposits, offer loans and other financial services, and are secure places to keep funds. But there are significant differences between the two.

For-Profit vs. Not-for-Profit 

One of the most significant differences between banks and credit unions is that credit unions are Cooperative Financial Institutions owned by their Members and operate as a not-for-profit status. Banks are for-profit businesses owned by stockholders. Profits at credit unions are returned to Members through better rates, lower fees, and other benefits. Only stockholders will receive profits at banks. Credit unions are democratic organizations owned and controlled by their Members. Every Member has one vote and an equal opportunity to participate in the decision and policymaking.

Credit Union Member vs. Bank Account Customer

At a credit union, you’ll always be more than just an account number; you’ll be a valued partner. Credit unions put a focus on the Members they serve every day. That’s just the way it is and always will be.

Credit Unions Report to Members Not Stockholders

Members, not stockholders, own a credit union. Every credit union Member has equal ownership, regardless of how big their account is. Credit union Members elect the volunteer Board of Directors that help manage the credit union. Credit unions will determine bylaws, terms of office, and voting requirements. Banks must focus on making higher profits that are returned only to stockholders, not customers. Stockholders do not need to be customers of the bank they hold stock in. Account-holders at banks have no say in how the bank operates or hold any voting rights.

Member Benefits of a Credit Union

As a credit union Member, you have privileges banks can’t offer.

  • Profits rolled back into credit unions allow for lower loan rates
  • There is a greater focus on the local community
  • Voting rights allow Members to vote on bylaw changes, mergers, charter changes, Board elections, and other matters
  • Credit unions rely on Members to help form and make decisions for their branches


Credit Unions Serve a Specific Population

Unlike banks, credit unions serve a specific population, interest, or group. 
Excite Credit Union has a unique Mission serving those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Francisco counties in California or Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties in North Carolina. Additionally, those employed by one of our partner organizations or businesses. Family Members, domestic partners, or roommates of current Members are also eligible to join.

Personalized Service

Credit unions are well known for their excellent customer service. As a not-for-profit, credit unions can focus energy and training on high-quality customer service. Credit unions don’t sell Members the latest financial product because of a sales goal. A credit union’s products and services are tailored to the Member and local community they serve, not a corporate quota.

Better Rates and Lower Fees 

Credit unions serve Members not stockholders. The number one motive for banks is to increase stockholders’ profits. The goal of credit unions is to return profits to their Members through lower loan rates, lower fees, and higher dividends paid on deposit products, financial education, and community support.


The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insure your deposits. The only difference is that NCUA insures credit union deposits, and FDIC only issues bank deposits. Credit unions and banks both insure for the same amount, $250,000. The NCUA and FDIC are Federal Agencies.

Branch/ATM Locations – Share Network

Back in the day, a credit union Member may have found it difficult to make transactions outside their local credit union. But that isn't the case today. Credit unions offer what's called "shared branching." Shared branching is a national network of credit unions from across the country that share their facilities to give all of their Members thousands of convenient locations to perform financial transactions. There are more than 5,600 shared branches across 50 states, and you'll have access to over 30,000 Surcharge-Free ATMs across the U.S.

Local Community Involvement

Every year, credit unions across the country provide funds, support, and goods to local communities and charities. Every credit union is different as to the organization and support they provide, but all credit unions are committed to the communities they serve. Excite is the Community’s Credit Union, supporting Members, Small Businesses, and like-minded Community Partners with a passion for making financial success attainable to everyone, especially those who are marginalized or without access. Excite is a Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with more than 60% of loans supporting low to moderate income individuals and families in the communities we serve.

Not a Member yet? To learn more about why Excite is the community’s credit union and to become a Member, click here.

Topics: Savings, Talking About Money, Credit Unions are Different than Banks