How are credit unions different from banks?

While credit unions have some similarities to banks, there are also lots of important differences. This table helps to compare and contrast between the two models:

Can serve the general public Can only serve its members who must be drawn from a specific, identified community (aka its “field of membership”)
Can sell stock and accept equity investments Cannot sell stock or accept equity investments
Owned by its stockholders in proportion to stock ownership Democratically owned and controlled by its members on a one-member-one-vote basis
Primarily exists to maximize financial returns for its stockholders Primarily exists to serve its members
Earnings (via declared dividends) are paid only to stockholders Earnings are paid back to members via higher savings rates and lower loan rates
Must pay taxes Is tax exempt; does not pay taxes
Deposits are federally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250k per customer Deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) up to $250k per member
Board members are paid Board members are volunteers and cannot be paid

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