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About Credit Unions

Basic Industry Information

Overview: More than 100 million Americans are member-owners of, and receive all or part of their financial services from the nation's 6,900 credit unions. As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions generally offer more attractive savings and loan rates as well as generally lower fees. Surveys consistently rank credit unions first among financial institutions in terms of consumer satisfaction.

What is a Credit Union?

A non-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative, democratically managed by its members, and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and providing other financial services to its members, credit unions exist solely to support their members.

How is a credit union different than a bank?

Credit Union Facts:

  • Numbers of Credit Unions: 6,900
  • Credit Union Members: 100 million
  • Assets: $1.026 trillion
  • Loans: $603 billion
  • Surplus funds: $383 billion
  • Consumer Savings: $881 billion
  • Volunteers: 86,000 Americans (serving as board members, committee members or providing other assistance.
  • Capital to Assets: 10.3%
  • ATMs: 30,000

Philosophy and Structure:

  • Credit unions are democratically owned and controlled institutions that take pride in their "people helping people" philosophy.
  • Credit union boards of directors are elected by members; each member has an equal vote, regardless of how much he or she has on deposit.
  • Only members may serve as directors, and directors generally serve without remuneration.
  • Volunteers are an important credit union resource. Presently, approximately 86,000 Americans volunteer for their credit unions, serving as board members, committee members or providing other assistance. Finally, credit unions have no outside stockholders, so after reserves are set aside, earnings are returned to members in the form of dividends on savings, lower loan rates and fees, or additional services.

Regulation and Supervision:

Federally chartered credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an independent federal agency. NCUA's three board members are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. State chartered credit unions are regulated by their state supervisory authority. NCUA administers NCUSIF, and has authority to subject all federally insured credit unions to insurance examinations. No taxpayer money is used to regulate or oversee credit unions, as the activities of NCUA and NCUSIF are funded by credit unions.

  • Shared Branching Physical Locations: 5,000
  • States with Shared Branches: 50
  • Credit Union members save over $6 billion each year by doing business with credit unions, as opposed to a bank
  • Customers at banks benefit about $2 billion because credit unions are in the market place
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