What’s the Difference Between Banks and Credit Unions? (Infographic)

The distinctions between a bank and credit union are easily blurred; after all, both offer similar products and services like checking accounts and home loans. However, when it comes to how each operates and the benefits that depositors and borrowers receive, there are vast differences between the two.

Here’s everything you need to know about banks and credit unions to help you decide which kind of financial institution is best for your needs.

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Banks vs. Credit Unions by the Numbers

Bank Definition: A for-profit financial institution, chartered by a state or federal government, which accepts deposits and provides loans.

Credit Union Definition: A member-owned and operated financial co-operative where profits are shared among its owners.

Number of Institutions and Branches

Credit Unions

  • Institutions – 8,332
  • Branches – 21,406


  • Institutions – 6,096
  • Branches – 83,709

Average Interest Rates

Credit UnionsBanks
Savings Account0.14% APY0.10% APY
12-Month CD0.42% APY0.27% APY
Checking Account0.27% APY0.16% APY
Money Market0.19% APY0.16% APY
5-Year New Auto Loan2.63% APR3.91% APR
30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage4.22% APR4.24% APR
Savings products assume a $10k deposit
Source: Informa Research Services, Inc. as of 10/23/13

Sources: GOBankingRates.com/Informa Research Services, Inc. database, FDIC, The Financial Brand

  • UnDecided

    Great Infographic, I have been pondering switching over to a credit union and some of this info has helped me make a conclusion. You just might have to wait and see what I do on Nov. 5 (Bank Transfer Day) =)

    • Kristen Christian

      Hi, UnDecided! I’m curious– How’d it go? Which credit union did you choose? Come on over to BTD’s official Facebook & tell your story! http://facebook.com/nov.fifth

  • Interesting – I had no idea there were more CUs than banks. Another difference I’ve found: customer service is way better at credit unions!

  • ChrisCD

    I was also surprised there more CUs than banks. Although, there are numerous small credit unions that are able to survive because they serve such a small, focused group of people. One point to challenge is the volunteer boards. Some credit unions have moved to paying board members.