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What is a Credit Union?

A credit union is a cooperative financial institution, owned and democratically controlled by the members who use its services. These people are considered member-owners. Typically, credit unions serve groups that share something in common, such as where they work, live, or go to church. They may also serve a specific town, county or geographic area.
 
Credit unions are not-for-profit, and exist to provide a safe, convenient place for member-owners to save money and to get loans at reasonable rates.
 
Credit unions, like other financial institutions, are very closely regulated. Federally insured credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.  The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) is the federal fund created by Congress in 1970 to insure member's deposits in federally insured credit unions. In 2010 The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act increased the share insurance coverage up to $250,000.
 
Like banks, credit unions accept deposits and make loans. But credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their member-owners.  Banks are in business to make a healthy profit for their stockholders. Unlike banks, credit unions return surplus income to their members in the form higher dividends, better rates on loans, and lower fees. Every member is an owner with an equal vote in the cooperative.