Credit Union Difference | Atlantic Financial FCU | Baltimore, MD - Hunt Valley, MD Skip to main content

The CU Difference

What is a Credit Union?

A credit union; sure, you've heard of it (of course, you've made it to this webpage). Still have questions about what a credit union really is? No problem, we get that a lot. Let us help you better understand it all.

You know what a bank is. A credit union is the same thing only better (if we do say so ourselves…and we do).


Credit Union: A credit union is a financial institution, but are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by all of its members.


Members: Members are you and your family, the people with whom you work, and your neighbors; the people you know. The members are the owners of the credit union.


Credit unions exist to provide a safe, convenient place for their members to save money. Credit unions are focused on helping their members succeed. They strive to help members save by delivering higher earnings, lower cost loans, and fewer fees, while making borrowing more attainable through affordable financial services.

When it comes to the difference between banks and credit unions, there are two important things to remember.


NOT-FOR-PROFIT

Credit unions operate to promote the well-being of their members. Profits made by credit unions are returned back to members in the form of lower loan rates, fewer fees and higher earnings on savings and checking accounts.


MEMBER-OWNED

You're not a customer. You're a member and part owner. Credit unions are owned and controlled by the people, or members, who use their services. You have a voice and a vote. A volunteer board of directors comprised of fellow members and elected by members, oversee the credit union.


Credit Unions: Different! Better!

  • We believe in, and diligently follow, the credit union motto of "People Helping People." We adhere to this principle in all decision making and direction to remain 100% focused on helping our members achieve their financial goals.
  • FOR MEMBERS – NOT FOR-PROFIT! Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, where each member is actually a part-owner. That's why we are adamant about calling you a member, and not a customer!
  • We are democratic, where members have voting rights with each member getting one vote. Our Board of Directors is elected by and made up of our members.
  • No shareholders to pay, like at for-profit banks. Profits made at a credit union are paid back to you in the form of higher savings rates, lower lending rates, and occasional member dividend bonuses. This keeps our focus on you, not the earnings of outside investors.
  • Savings are federally insured by NCUA, keeping your funds safe. We are financially sound and insured, but with lower fees and better rates!

BanksCredit Unions
Profits go to stockholders so decisions are based on what is best for stockholders.Operate not for profit, not for charity, but for service so decisions are based on what is best for members.
As a commercial business, services are offered to make a profit.As a cooperative, members pool their savings to provide low-cost loans and low-fee services to each other.
Owned by stockholders that purchase shares of bank stock.Each member is an equal owner of the credit union.
Serves the general public.Serves only the members that have joined.
Board of Directors are not necessarily owners and are paid a salary.Board of Directors are unpaid volunteer members.
Stockholders, not the customers, elect the Board.Members elect fellow members for the board.
Income is returned to the stockholders, not the customers, in the form of higher dividends on stocks.Income is returned to the members in the form of higher savings rates, lower loan rates, and lower or no fees for services.
As a for-profit business, banks pay government taxes. As a non-profit organization, credit unions are exempt from paying government taxes.
Deposits are federally insured by the FDIC.Deposits are federally insured by the NCUSIF, the healthiest federal deposit insurance fund.