A credit union financial cooperative

While credit unions and banks offer similar products and services (checking, credit cards, mortgages, etc.), it's important to understand credit union cooperative principles, how credit unions are unique and different from banks, and why we remain a necessary and extremely popular financial alternative for millions of Americans.


Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives. We exist to serve our members, not to deliver a profit to stockholders. Unlike other financial institutions, credit unions do not issue stock or pay dividends to outside stockholders. Instead, earnings are returned to members in the form of competitive financial offerings, more service and convenience.

Board of directors

Each credit union is governed by a board of directors, elected by and from the credit union’s membership.


Credit unions are an economic democracy. Each credit union member has equal ownership — regardless of how much money a member has on deposit. At a credit union, all members are owners.

Social purpose: people helping people

Credit unions exist to serve their members’ financial needs, not provide a profit to third party investors. They know their credit union will be there for them in bad times, as well as good. The same people-first philosophy is at the heart of why credit unions and our employees get involved in the local community through charitable and other worthwhile causes.

Financial education for members

Credit Unions educate their members, helping them become better consumers of financial services.

Membership eligibility

By current statute, credit unions cannot serve the general public. Individuals and businesses/organizations qualify for a credit union membership through their employer, organizational affiliations like religious groups, or community.


Credit unions do pay taxes – payroll taxes, sales taxes and property taxes. Congress exempts credit unions from federal income taxes. The exemption was established in 1937, affirmed by statute in 1951, and re-affirmed in 1998.

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