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What is a Credit Union

Credit Unions are non-profit cooperative financial institutions. They were first formed in Europe by groups of people who could not afford to do business with banks. These groups of people, often sharing a common bond of similar interest or professions, pooled their resources to provide each other with cooperative financial services. Today a credit union's common bond is its 'field of membership'.

In 1909, the first credit union in the United States was established in Manchester, New Hampshire. Today, there are over 12,000 credit unions with over $316 billion in assets serving 70 million people in the United States. Unlike banks, credit unions are member-owned, nonprofit cooperatives. There are no stockholders. Organized to serve, democratically controlled credit unions provide their members with a safe place to save and borrow at reasonable rates. The credit union's Board of Directors is made up of volunteers elected from within the membership at an annual meeting. Highlighting the services of credit unions are higher dividends paid on savings, lower rates on loans, and low or no service charges on services provided. Credit unions have received the No. 1 rating in customer satisfaction at financial institutions for 10 years according to the American Banker Newspaper's annual customer satisfaction survey. Credit union deposits are federally insured, up to $250,000, by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), the strongest federal insurance fund. The fund in maintained by premiums paid by federal credit unions and is managed by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an agency of the United States government.