Frequently Asked Questions
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What is a Credit Union?
A credit union is a cooperative, not-for-profit financial institution organized to promote saving and provide credit to its members. It is member-owned and controlled through a board of directors who are elected by the membership. The board members' service to the credit union is voluntary, and they have the ability to hire a management team to operate the credit union. The board establishes and revises credit union policy, sets dividend and loan rates, and directs certain operations. The result is an institution that does not exist for profit, but for the greater benefit of its membership.
Who owns a credit union?
Most financial institutions are owned by stockholders whose primary intention is to profit from their investment. A credit union operates much differently. Rather than stockholders, each member in the credit union owns a "share" of the organization. Because the member of a credit union is also an "owner," that member is entitled to vote on important issues that impact the welfare of the credit union, such as the election of member representatives to serve on the board of directors.
When did credit unions first begin?
The first credit union cooperatives started in Germany over a century ago. Today, credit unions can be found across the globe. In the United States, the credit union movement began in Manchester, New Hampshire where the St. Mary's Cooperative Credit Association, a church-affiliated credit union, opened its doors in 1909. Today, one in every three Americans is a credit union member.
What is the purpose of a credit union?
The primary purpose of a credit union is to encourage members to save money. It's secondary function is to provide affordable loans to its members, as it has done so traditionally by making loans to people of ordinary means. Credit unions have the unique ability to charge lower rates for loans, as well as pay higher dividends for savings, because they are non-for-profit cooperatives. Because credit unions do not pay profits to stockholders, its excess earnings are returned to the members in the form of dividends, low-fee and FREE services, and improved services.
Are savings deposits insured?
All savings accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the NCUA, the National Credit Union Administration, which is an agency of the federal government.
Who can join a credit union?
A credit union exists to serve a specific group of people, such as a group of employees or members of a professional or religious group. This is called a "field of membership." The field of membership may include where members live, work, worship or attend school, or membership in a social or economic group.