Credit Unions vs. Banks

They offer many of the same services and technology, but credit unions and banks are actually very different.

Mission

Credit unions serve our members.

Credit unions exist to provide financial services to our members at the lowest possible price.

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Banks serve their shareholders.

Banks are for-profit institutions obligated to maximize profits for their shareholders.

Not-for-profit vs. For-profit

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions.

Credit unions share our profits with our members in the form of lower rates on loans, higher rates on deposits and possible year-end interest refunds and dividend bonuses.

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Banks are for profit.

One of a bank's main purposes is to earn money for its shareholders. That's why banks typically have higher fees, higher interest rates on loans and lower interest rates on deposits.

Services and Products

Credit unions can tailor products.

Credit unions typically offer the same types of products and technology as banks. For instance, Ascend offers both online banking and a mobile app. And because we're locally owned, we're better able to tailor our products to our members' needs.

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Banks are less flexible.

The products offered by banks are often one-size-fits-all. Because of the way they're structured and regulated, banks are less able to tailor products to fit customers' needs.

Interest Rates

Credit unions typically offer better rates.

Because our mission is to serve our members, credit unions usually have lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on deposits.

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Banks typically offer rates that aren't as good.

Because they are trying to maximize profits, banks usually charge higher rates on loans and pay lower rates on deposits.

Ownership

Credit unions are owned by our members.

When you open an account, you become a member-owner of the credit union.

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Banks are owned by stockholders.

Banks are for-profit corporations owned by stockholders, not customers.