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Who Can Join a Credit Union (And Why They Should)

When we ask people what they think the difference is between a bank and a credit union, we often hear answers like, “It’s like a bank, only smaller,” or, “Credit unions only accept certain people,” as if they are some kind of exclusive club.

Sure, many credit unions do exist to serve specific professions or groups, like labor unions, government employees, and members of the military. But many are community-based and only require you to live, work, worship, or attend school in a specific geographic area or community. You can research the specific membership requirements here.

The primary difference between a bank and a credit union is that a bank exists to enhance the wealth of its shareholders while a credit union serves the unique needs of its members. By holding an account with a credit union, you essentially become a shareholder yourself.

Credit unions offer the same services you can get at banks, including:

  • Checking accounts
  • Debit cards
  • Savings accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Home, car, and business loans

So what makes a credit union special? Investment in the community.

It’s all about relationships! People who work at credit unions live in the same community as their member-owners, so they’re able to understand their needs and truly serve them. They get to team up to volunteer and partner with local events, charities, organizations, and causes. That’s one of our favorite things to do at Vantage West.

The credit union philosophy can be summed up as, “members helping members.” That is expressed directly in the services and products that credit unions offer, like:

  • Higher savings rates
  • Lower loan rates
  • Better services
  • Lower fees
  • Help planning for the future

More than 98 million Americans – nearly one-third of the population – belong to a credit union. Whatever your financial needs, it’s a great idea to begin searching for a credit union in your community. Learn more at VantageWest.org/Banks-Own-You.

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