Credit unions and banks: What's the difference?

If it looks like a bank, it must be a bank, right? Not if it's a credit union!

Black and white image of man walking down the street in front of a Servus Credit Union branch. Photo taken by George Stastny.

Image credit: George Stastny

What's the difference? First, there's the history. Credit unions started in Europe in the mid-1800s, when times were tough, and people were in financial need. Rather than accept charity, neighbours pooled their money and made loans to each other. The interest on these loans paid the credit union's expenses and operating costs.

Today, credit unions offer the same products and services as banks, but they still operate differently. Instead of being owned by shareholders and paying them dividends, they are owned by local members of the community. They invest their profits back into the communities where their members live and work. And they are run by a board of directors elected by their members.

There are currently 22 credit unions in Alberta. Check out these details:

Credit Union facts

And here are some fun facts about Servus Credit Union and Canada's banks:

So aren't you glad you've chosen to put your money in a credit union versus a bank?

You can learn more from the Canadian Credit Union Association.

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