Understanding the differences between credit unions and banks can be confusing. For the most part, Credit Unions and Banks offer the same products and services. However, there are fundamental differences that will affect which type of financial institution is best for you. Banks are for-profit corporations with declared earnings paid to stockholders; the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) insures customer deposits and provides governance and oversight. Credit Unions are member-owned not-for-profit financial cooperatives whose earnings are paid back to members in the form of higher savings rates and lower loan rates. Credit Unions generally require affiliation such as where members live, work, worship, or attend school. You can also qualify as a member if another member of your household or family belongs to the credit union. The NCUA (National Credit Union Association) provides credit union deposit insurance, governance and oversight. Credit Unions are known for friendly personal service, offering affordable products and services, charging lower fees and paying higher interest rates on accounts.