Choosing where to bank and keep your money safe is a big decision, and it’s important to find a financial partner that has your back through the good, the bad, and everything in between. When it comes to deciding where to do your everyday saving, spending, and borrowing, the options are endless.

The number of credit unions and banks that exist in these modern times is ever increasing, so how do you know which is right for you? Are you team credit union or team bank?

While credit unions and banks speak a very similar language, there are fundamental differences between the two. So, let’s dive right in and explore what sets banks and credit unions apart.  

What is a Credit Union?

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives that go above and beyond to serve the financial needs of their members. As a financial cooperative, your money stays within the community to help the community. The profits made by credit unions are funneled back into the membership in the form of lower loan rates, higher savings dividends, and very few fees.

Cooperation is defined as, “the process of working together to the same end,” and for credit unions, that couldn’t be truer. Credit unions hold the motto, “people helping people,” close to their heart. When you bank with a credit union, you’re the number one focus. Credit unions take time to connect with you on a more personalized level to get to know and understand you and your financial needs better. You’re much more than a customer or number; you’re a member, and your membership makes you part owner of the credit union.

As a member-owner, you have the opportunity to let your voice be heard. Credit unions host annual meetings where members come together to vote to elect a volunteer board of directors who manage the credit union.

What is a Bank?

Banks, on the other hand, are for-profit financial institutions; they are in business solely to make money, rather than put their focus on their account holders.

While credit unions report to their member-owners, banks are required to make a significant portion of their earnings off fees in order to profit the corporate shareholders, which explains why you’ll typically get charged with a variety of fees (monthly fees, annual fees, service fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees, balance transfers, etc.) and find higher rates on loans and lower interest rates on savings accounts.

Unlike the membership eligibility requirements that the majority of credit unions have, with banks, practically anyone can walk right into a branch and open an account.

Credit Unions—The Better Choice

Now that we’ve got the definitions down pat, let’s take an even deeper look at credit unions.

Why shop around and have more than one bank when you can find smart solutions to all your financial needs under one roof? Just like any typical financial institution, credit unions offer all the same quality financial products, services, and educational resources that are designed to help you take control of your financial future, while catering to their members’ needs with heart.

From savings and checking accounts, to loans, fee-free ATMs, online/mobile banking, financial wellness and education resources, credit unions provide it all! So, if you’re looking to set a new savings strategy, open your first-ever checking account, consolidate debt, or search for your perfect dream home, credit unions are on your side every step of the way to empower you to live out your dreams.

Who’s Eligible to Join a Credit Union?

So, who can join a credit union? While some may think the eligibility component is complicated, it’s really much simpler than you might think! Credit unions have a “field of membership,” which defines who’s eligible to join. Eligibility can be based on several different factors, including employer, address, family, and associations.

Employers: Many employers partner with credit unions as an added benefit for their employees so they can take full advantage of membership perks.

Address: Credit unions proudly serve their local communities, and depending on where you live, work, worship, or attend school, you may be eligible for membership.

Family: Your key to membership may be through your immediate family or anyone that lives in your household, including roommates, that are already members.

Associations: Membership within an eligible group or association partner of the credit union may qualify you to join.

Joining really is as simple as that (and not mention, completely worth it when you’ve got the right partner, which I’ll get into next, wink, wink!).

The GOLD Difference

I may be biased, but I can honestly say that all of us at GOLD Credit Union do banking differently than most consumers are used to.

So, what is it exactly that sets us apart from any one of our competitors? To us, the answer is quite simple. Our heart is what sets us apart. You’ll notice quickly that our team truly cares about you and helping you achieve your vision of financial success. We’re proud to go above and beyond to provide every single one of our Members with exceptional service, and enjoy developing lifelong connections with our Members throughout every phase of their financial journeys.

On behalf of the GOLD team, we want you to know that your dreams and goals matter to us, and we’re passionate about helping you achieve them.

You may have noticed a common theme here when it comes to credit unions: togetherness. And GOLD is certainly no exception. We work hard to build our community up, strive to help you reach your goals and dreams, and make you feel empowered to achieve success no matter what stage you’re at in life. GOLD is built on the belief that, together, great things are destined to be achieved.

Bank Where You Truly Matter

No one but you can make the decision when it comes to choosing between a credit union or bank; it’s your own personal preference.

What I will say, though, is that when you’re ready to make GOLD your credit union, our team is standing by and ready to provide you with a positive, memorable banking experience that allows you to take comfort in knowing you’ve got a trustworthy financial partner for life.

For more information or to start living the life you’ve been dreaming of, visit our website at to join or call our team at 484-223-4200.

Chelsea Welk

Chelsea Welk

Chelsea is the Communications Manager at GOLD. She provides Members and future Members with detailed financial information that's aimed to better serve their personal financial goals. Chelsea enjoys working to fulfill GOLD's mission and vision to help make a positive difference in our Members' everyday lives.

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