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Credit unions are financial cooperatives set up by employee and community associations, labor unions, church groups, and other organizations. They provide affordable financial services to members of the sponsoring organization.
In some cases, they're created in rural or economically disadvantaged areas, where commercial banks may be scarce or prohibitively expensive.
Because they are not-for-profit, credit unions tend to charge lower fees and interest rates on loans than commercial banks while paying higher interest rates on savings and investment accounts.
The services offered at large credit unions can be as comprehensive as those at large banks. At smaller credit unions, however, services and hours may be more limited, and a few deposits may not be insured.
Assets in most credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund on the same terms that deposits in national and state banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
A nonprofit organization in which qualified persons may make deposits and obtain loans. Formerly, membership was strictly defined so as to limit it to persons in a particular industry or trade organization, but those rules are now largely obsolete. Bankers believe that credit unions enjoy an unfair advantage in the marketplace by virtue of paying no income taxes as a result of their nonprofit status.The lack of any income tax expenses allows the credit unions to offer somewhat higher rates on deposits and somewhat lower rates on loans.