Credit union provide similar services to banks, but are very different.
Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives serving members who share something in common—employment, association membership, or residence in a particular geographic area. More than 70 million U.S. consumers are member-owners of, and receive all or part of their financial services from, the nation’s credit unions.
Owned by members.
Credit unions are democratically owned and controlled institutions based on ‘people helping people’ principles. Credit union boards of directors are elected by members; each member has an equal vote, regardless of how much he or she has on deposit.
Controlled by members.
Only members may serve as directors, and directors serve without compensation. Credit unions have no outside stockholders, so after reserves are set aside, earnings are returned to members in the form of higher dividends on savings, lower loan rates, and lower cost services.