Copyright 81995 Credit Union National Association, Inc., revised June 7, 1995 Please send your comments to Talk2Us@CUNA.ORG. ----------------------- What is a Credit Union? ----------------------- A credit union is a cooperative that is owned and controlled by the people who use its services. These people are members. Credit unions serve people that share something in common, such as where they work, live, or go to church. A credit union's "field of membership" is outlined in its state or federal charter. Credit unions are not-for-profit, and exist to provide a safe, convenient place for members to save money and to get loans at reasonable rates. This is in contrast to Banks and Savings and Loans Institution which are financial institutions that accept deposits and make loans to make a profit. They are chartered, or given permission to do business, by either the state or federal government. They are owned by groups of stockholders whose interests include earning a healthy return on their investments. Credit unions, like other financial institutions, are closely regulated. And they operate in a very prudent manner. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, administered by an agency of the federal government, insures deposits of credit union members at more than 12,000 federal and state chartered credit unions nationwide. Deposits are insured up to $100,000. ------- History ------- Credit unions have been providing cooperative financial services for more than 150 years. The credit union idea developed in Germany in the 1840s and spread to North America at the beginning of this century. St. Mary's Bank, the first credit union in the United States, was organized in 1908 in New Hampshire. The history of the credit union movement demonstrates the principle of "people helping people" in action. -------- Services -------- Credit unions serve the financial needs of their members. Because individuals' needs vary, so do the services that each credit union offers. All credit unions offer savings accounts, called "share" accounts. These savings accounts represent members' ownership "shares" in the credit unions. Other services can include personal, vehicle, and mortgage loans; checking accounts, credit cards, direct deposit, payroll deduction, automated teller machine (ATM) access, or even remote access via the Internet. For a complete list of available services, check your local credit union. ----------------- Statistics in USA ----------------- As of May 1, 1995, there were 12,419 credit unions in the United States, with more than 68.2 million members, $270.4 billion in savings, $185.1 billion in loans outstanding, and $305.4 billion in assets.