Credit Union Difference

Credit unions and banks serve many of the same needs for their account holders, but the difference is in the details! Credit unions, unlike banks, are exempt from Federal and most State taxes because credit unions are member-owned, not for profit organizations. These tax exemptions give credit unions the ability to reinvest into their organization and their communities.


Credit unions are an economic democracy. Regardless of how much money or number of accounts a member has, they are an equal owner of the credit union and have a vote.  At a credit union, every person is both a member and an owner. 

Volunteer Boards

Each credit union is governed by a voluntary board of directors, not stockholders. The board of directors are elected by and from the credit union's membership.

Membership Eligibility

By federal statute, credit unions cannot serve the general public; people qualify through their county of residence, employer, or organizational affiliations.

Social Purpose

Credit unions exist to help people, not make a profit. Our members are fiercely loyal because they know their credit union will be there for them in good and bad times. Our philosophy of people helping people guides our leaders and encourages our employees to get involved in community charitable activities and worthwhile causes.

Products & Services

Credit unions offer similar or the same type of products as banks, like checking or savings accounts, various types of loans, financial education, and much more. People choose to become a member at a credit union because they can offer lower rates on loans and higher rates on deposit accounts.

Learn more about The Credit Union Difference by visiting the National Credit Union Administration and Wisconsin Credit Union League websites.

What's the difference between credit unions and banks?

Credit Union

At credit unions, depositors are called members. Each member is an owner of the credit union.

Since credit union members are owners, each member, regardless of how many accounts they have or how much money they have on deposit, has one vote in electing board members. Members can also run for election to the board.

Credit unions’ board members are volunteers who reflect the diversity of the membership.

Credit unions are local and are organized to serve the interests of its membership.

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives whose earnings are paid back to members in the form of higher savings rates and lower loan rates.


Banks’ depositors are called customers. Customers have no ownership in the financial institution, the financial institutions are owned by investors.

Banks are owned and controlled by stockholders, whose number of votes depend upon number of shares owned. Customers don't have voting rights, cannot be elected to the board, and have no say in how their bank is operated. Directors are selected by current directors or by large block stock acquisition.

Banks’ board members are paid, and do not necessarily reflect the diversity of their customer base.

 Banks are open to the general public.

Banks are all for-profit corporations with declared earnings paid to stockholders only.