What is a Credit Union?
Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members. Like banks, credit unions accept deposits, make loans and provide a wide array of other financial services. But as member-owned and cooperative institutions, credit unions provide a safe place to save and borrow at reasonable rates.
You are more than a member, you are part owner.
Credit unions are owned and controlled by the people, or members, who use their services. Your vote counts. A volunteer board of directors is elected by members to manage a credit union. Credit unions operate to promote the well-being of their members.
Profits made by credit unions are returned back to members in the form of reduced fees, higher savings rates and lower loan rates. Members of a credit union share a common bond, also known as the credit union’s “field of membership.” Use the information below to find, join or even start a credit union.
Find a Credit Union
Finding a Credit Union in Your Area?
Use NCUA’s Credit Union Locator (opens new window) to locate a credit union near you. Search for a credit union by address, credit union name or charter number. Select a credit union from your search results and view basic information. You can also browse the Locator’s companion tool, Research a Credit Union (opens new window) for detailed credit union information. Note: Credit Union data is refreshed within two business days.
Join a Credit Union
Selecting a Credit Union to Join
After you find a credit union, review the credit union’s field of membership to see if you can join. Often, you can find field of membership information on the credit union’s website. Look for wording on membership eligibility, how to join or how to become a member.
How do I choose a credit union to join?
Anyone can join a credit union, as long as you are within the credit union’s field of membership. This is the common bond between members.
The common bond could be your:
- Employer - Many employers sponsor their own credit unions.
- Family - Most credit unions allow members' families to join.
- Geographic Location - Many credit unions serve anyone that lives, works, worships or attends school in a particular geographic area.
- Membership in a group – such as a place of worship, school, labor union or homeowners' association may qualify you to join.
What do I need to join a credit union?
About $5 to $25, which is generally the cost of purchasing one par value share at a credit union in order to establish a membership account. Some credit unions may also charge a nominal fee to process the account opening.
Start a Credit Union
Are you thinking about starting a federal credit union (opens new window) that would help you and others where you work, or who are members of an association or your community?
Chartering application guidance: Please contact the NCUA’s Office of Credit Union Resources and Expansion at 703-518-1150 or NewFCU@ncua.gov for guidance on starting a new federal credit union. A CURE staff member can discuss in greater detail with you the step-by-step processes and answer your questions concerning your specific proposed federal credit union.
Credit Union Field of Membership
A credit union field of membership is a common bond amongst its members. The field of membership of a credit union is a part of its official charter, and is the legal definition of who is eligible to join the credit union. The common bond could be your employer, family, geographic location or membership in a group.
Learn more about credit union chartering and field of membership (opens new window).
Federally Versus Privately Insured Credit Unions
Federally chartered credit unions are regulated by NCUA and insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Established by Congress in 1970 to insure member share accounts at federally insured credit unions, NCUSIF is similar to the FDIC's (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).) deposit insurance coverage.
It is important to note that some deposits at state-chartered credit unions are insured by private insurers. These private insurers provide non-federal share insurance coverage of deposits that are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.
To determine if your credit union is federally insured, use NCUA’s Research a Credit Union (opens new window).
How do you know if your credit union is federally insured? All federally insured credit unions must prominently display the official NCUA insurance sign at each teller station and where insured account deposits are normally received in their principal place of business and in all branches. Federally insured credit unions are also required to display the official sign on their Internet page, if any, where they accept deposits or open accounts.
All federal credit unions must be insured by NCUA, and no credit union may terminate its federal insurance without first notifying its members.