Hey, since the FoolProof team is made up of consumer advocates, and since FoolProof is partially funded by credit unions nationwide, we don't think it's fair of us to tell you what we think are the differences in credit unions and banks. Our opinion would definitely be very different than some other opinions.

And remember: consumer advocates can be as biased as anyone else.

You Decide

So it's your job to decide which opinion seems most accurate to you.

One thing banks and credit unions agree on, however: this one difference in banks and credit unions:

  • Banks are profit-making companies owned by stockholders.

  • Credit unions are not-for-profit businesses owned by their members.

Because credit unions are "not for profit," they don't pay taxes. And the banks don't like that fact one bit.

  • In fact, many banking groups spend a lot of time trying to stop the growth of credit unions and force them to pay taxes.
    For instance, The American Bankers Association (ABA) ran a campaign for few years called "Operation Credit Union-Oppose Credit Unions' Continued Growth." That website has been removed. But here's what the current American Bankers Association website says about taxing credit unions.

  • Banks also make a very strong case for their role in providing consumers products and services.
    For instance, here's a good summary of that role.

  • Banks also host many excellent financial education efforts.
    The ABA's "Consumer Connection" website offers consumers, families and teachers lots of tools.

  • Credit Unions say they have a very different role than banks.
    Here's what they say makes them different.

  • Credit unions also offer lots of financial education.
    Aside from FoolProof, which is only offered through credit unions and other not-for-profits, here's an overview.

    "CUNA" represents most credit unions like the ABA represents most banks

The FoolProof Team believes that most consumers at one time or the other should maintain a relationship with a credit union and a bank.

Do Your Own Research

But to help you decide which is right for you now, do your own research! Use the web to search for articles on the differences in banks and credits unions.

Here are some good topics to search:

  • "Banks vs. Credit Unions"
  • "Credit Unions vs. Banks"
  • "Comparing Credit Unions and Banks"
  • "Comparing Banks and Credit Unions"

Remember what we have said in virtually all the FoolProof modules?

You are the person in charge of your financial life, and you are responsible for the consequences of your decisions.

So, make your decision on your first financial partner a thoughtful decision. Since both banks and credit unions offer virtually the same products and services, your decision needs to be based to some degree on which will do the most for you as you start your financial life.

Good luck!