At a Glance: Credit Unions vs. Banks and Savings & Loans

Credit Unions Banks and Savings & Loans
Purpose To provide services to their members To make a profit
Definition A not-for-profit cooperative owned and operated by members who own shares of the organization Businesses owned by stockholders who intend to make money from their investment
Structure Democratically structured with each member having one vote regardless of the individual’s personal investment in the credit union Depositors have no vote; only stockholders may vote on goals, functions and services
Directors Directors are elected from the membership and are not paid for their time Directors are elected by stockholders and are paid for their time
Earnings Earnings are returned to the members in the form of dividends, higher savings rates, lower loan rates and improved services Earnings are returned to the stockholders
Size There are more than 8,100 credit unions in the United States with nearly 90 million members. Combined, credit unions in the United States have approximately $800 billion in assets. There are more than 8,200 banks and savings & loans in the United States with a total of 267 million customers. Combined, banks and savings & loans in the United States have approximately $13 trillion in assets.
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