Five myths about credit unions, busted

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Credit unions have been around for over 100 years, but not everybody knows who we are or what we do. To help, we busted five common myths about credit unions:

Myth: Credit unions aren’t banks.

Fact: That’s no myth. That’s a true fact. Credit unions are not banks. But they are fully accredited financial institutions. Like banks, credit unions provide financial services like savings and chequing accounts, mortgages, retirement savings, financial advice, business banking, mobile banking on your phone, credit cards, and every other financial service you can imagine. Provincially regulated, credit unions have operated in Canada for over 100 years and have evolved to provide the same services as chartered banks. In fact, credit unions have the same—if not higher—deposit protection as banks.

Myth: Credit unions don’t make a profit.

Fact: False. Credit unions are businesses that are designed to be profitable. What makes us different is that when we make a profit, so do our members. Because everybody who banks with a credit union is also a part-owner of the business, members can be eligible for profit sharing at the end of the year. This will look a little different depending on your credit union, but it could take shape through a lump sum at the end of the year, lower service fees, or other forms of profit sharing.

Myth: Members don’t have a say in how credit unions are run.

Fact: False. Credit unions are co-ops, which means when you open an account with us, you’re not just a customer, you’re an owner. That also means you get to have a say in how we operate our business—because it’s partially your business, too. Credit unions members are able to take part in the decision-making process at annual general meetings (AGM) and at any other point during the year. All you have to do is ask.

Myth: Credit unions don’t know their customers.

Fact: False. In fact, we don’t even call our customers “customers”. We call them members. And like any other kind of member—like clubs or families—we try to get to know everybody we interact with. And membership has its benefits. This is true when it comes to things like profit sharing, but it also comes to life when our profits stay in the communities we’re in. Because we are a local financial institution, our profits stay local too, which means our communities benefit greatly from having a credit union.

Myth: Credit unions are only in rural areas.

Fact: False. Although credit unions can be found in thousands of communities across Canada—and often in places without the presence of one of Canada’s larger banks—this doesn’t mean we’re a rural financial institution. Credit unions operate in cities, towns, and communities of all shapes and sizes across Atlantic Canada.