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Q. What’s a Credit Union?

A. A credit union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative. Organized to promote thrift and provide credit to members. A credit union is member-owned and controlled through a board of directors, which is elected by the membership. The board serves on a volunteer basis and they typically hire a CEO or Manager to run the credit union. The board establishes and revises policy, sets goals and provides the vision for the credit union in the future. The day to day operations are run by professionals who serve the members. The result: members are provided with a safe, convenient place to save and borrow at reasonable rates at an institution which exists to benefit them, not to make a profit.

Q. Who owns a credit union?

A. Most financial institutions are owned by stockholders, who own a part of the institution and intend on making money from their investment. A credit union doesn't operate that way. Each member is an owner of the organization. Thus, the user of credit union services is also an owner, and is entitled to vote on important issues, such as the election of member representatives to serve on the board of directors.

Q. How did credit unions start?

A. The first credit union cooperatives started in Germany over a century ago. Today, credit unions are found everywhere in the world. The credit union movement started in this country in Manchester, New Hampshire. There, the St. Mary's Cooperative Credit Association, a church-affiliated credit union, opened its doors in 1909. Today, there are over 90 million American owners receiving their financial services by almost 8,000 credit unions in the USA.

Q. What is the purpose of a credit union?

A. The primary purpose in furthering their goal of service is to encourage members to save money. Another purpose is to offer loans to members. In fact, credit unions have traditionally made loans to people of modest or ordinary means. Credit unions typically charge competitive, or lower rates for loans as well as pay higher dividends on savings because they are nonprofit cooperatives. Rather than paying profits to stockholders, credit unions return earnings to members in the form of dividends, lower loan rates and improved services, like online account access, ATMs, and convenient branch locations.

Q. Are savings deposits insured?

A. Yes. Your savings are federally insured up to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government by the NCUA, the National Credit Union Administration, an agency of the federal government. Visit this link to learn how share insurance works: Consumer Share Insurance Tool:

Q. Who can join a credit union?

A. A credit union exists to serve a specific group of people, such as a community, a geographical area, a group of employees or the members of a professional or religious group. This is called a "field of membership." The field of membership may include where they live, where they work, their membership in a social or economic group.