Why do banks not like credit unions?
For decades, bankers have objected to the tax breaks and sponsor subsidies enjoyed by credit unions and not available to banks. Because such challenges haven't slowed down the growth of credit unions, banks continue to look for other reasons to allege unfair competition.
Limited accessibility. Credit unions tend to have fewer branches than traditional banks. A credit union may not be close to where you live or work, which could be a problem unless your credit union is part of a shared branch network and/or a large ATM network such as Allpoint or MoneyPass.
Credit unions tend to offer lower rates and fees as well as more personalized customer service. However, banks may offer more variety in loans and other financial products and may have larger networks that can make banking more convenient.
Banks have better products
Not only it's free with no minimum balance, you are actually paid reward points worth $5/month to use it. My credit cards are also issued by banks, not credit unions. These cards offer better rewards.
More financial products and services: Banks offer a variety of products and services, while credit unions tend to stick with a few core offerings, such as deposit accounts, credit cards and loans. Many banks provide investment accounts and financial advisory services in addition to standard banking products.
Credit union disadvantages
Membership may require meeting certain work, residential or occupational requirements. Many typically offer branches only in a limited area or region.
However, because credit unions serve mostly individuals and small businesses (rather than large investors) and are known to take fewer risks, credit unions are generally viewed as safer than banks in the event of a collapse. Regardless, both types of financial institutions are equally protected.
The downside of credit unions include: the eligibility requirements for membership and the payment of a member fee, fewer products and services and limited branches and ATM's. If the benefits outweigh the downsides, then joining a credit union might be the right thing for you.
Just like banks, credit unions are federally insured; however, credit unions are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Instead, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is the federal insurer of credit unions, making them just as safe as traditional banks.
Both can be hit hard by tough economic conditions, but credit unions were statistically less likely to fail during the Great Recession. But no matter which you go with, you shouldn't worry about losing money. Both credit unions and banks have deposit insurance and are generally safe places for your money.
Are credit unions failing like banks?
Experts told us that credit unions do fail, like banks (which are also generally safe), but rarely. And deposits up to $250,000 at federally insured credit unions are guaranteed, just as they are at banks.
The number of federally insured credit unions declined to 4,712 in the first quarter of 2023, from 4,903 in the first quarter of 2022.
Credit unions play an important role for consumer banking in the United States, as around one third of the country's population has a credit union membership.
Causes of credit union failures
Credit unions do fail from time to time, too, and have seen a few more failures in recent years than banks.
Yes. Generally speaking, credit unions are safer than banks in a collapse. This is because credit unions use fewer risks, serving individuals and small businesses rather than large investors, like a bank.
Moreover, a credit union has more customer-friendly policies in place for overdrawing your checking account or having a lower credit score, making credit unions much better sources for banking services when you're new to the banking system, or experiencing credit problems.
Less favorable interest rates. Because banks are focused heavily on profits, many—especially the brick-and-mortar ones—offer lower-than-average interest rates on savings and higher rates on loans compared to credit unions (and many online banks). Lower customer service ratings.
You'll save more money.
Instead of paying shareholders a portion of the profit generated, credit unions return their profits to their member-owners in the form of better dividends on savings, lower interest rates on loans, interest-earning checking and fewer fees.
Liquidity Risk: The risk of not having sufficient liquid assets to meet the credit union's short-term obligations, which could impact its ability to function effectively and serve its members. Interest Rate Risk: Credit unions often have a significant portion of their assets and liabilities tied to interest rates.
FDIC. Both the NCUA and FDIC are responsible for insuring funds in the event that a financial institution fails. The NCUA insures credit union accounts, while the FDIC provides federal insurance for bank accounts. They both come with the same limits on insurance coverage.
How many credit unions have failed?
National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) credit unions had seven conservatorships/liquidations in 2022 and two so far in 2023.
If a credit union is placed into liquidation, the NCUA's Asset Management and Assistance Center (AMAC) will oversee the liquidation and set up an asset management estate (AME) to manage assets, settle members' insurance claims, and attempt to recover value from the closed credit union's assets.
- Best overall: Alliant Credit Union.
- Runner-up: PenFed Credit Union.
- Best for high APY: Consumers Credit Union (CCU)
- Best for low-interest credit cards: First Tech Federal Credit Union.
- Best for military members: Navy Federal Credit Union.
Predatory lending is any lending practice that imposes unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers. Some aspects of predatory lending include high-interest rates, high fees, and terms that strip the borrower of equity.
As long as you are banking at a federally insured institution, whether it is a credit union insured by the NCUA or a bank by the FDIC, your money is equally safe. Credit unions are owned by the members—your savings account at a credit union is a share of ownership.