Mountain West Credit Union Association

Credit Unions… For People, Not Profit


What is a Credit Union?

A credit union is a cooperative financial institution, owned and controlled by those who deposit their money in the credit union. These people are members, similar to customers, and they have something in common. They may work together, attend the same church, or live in a certain area. As credit unions are not-for-profit, they exist to help their members achieve their financial goals.


Credit Unions Are Different

It is important to truly understand how credit unions are unique and different, and why their cooperative model remains a necessary and  popular financial option for the 3.2 million credit union members throughout Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. 


Not-for-profit

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, existing to serve members, not to make a profit. Unlike most other financial institutions, credit unions do not issue stock or pay dividends to outside stockholders. Instead, earnings are returned to our members in the form of lower loan rates, higher interest on deposits, and lower fees.


Taxation

Credit unions do pay taxes – payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes. Credit unions are exempt from corporate and income taxes because of their not-for-profit structure.


Ownership

Credit unions are an economic democracy. Each credit union member has equal ownership and one vote - regardless of how much money a member has on deposit. At a credit union, every customer is both a member and an owner who gets to vote on how the credit union will be run through board elections.


Volunteer Boards

Each credit union is governed by a board of directors, elected by and from the credit union’s membership. Unlike other financial institutions who pay hefty salaries to their board members, credit union board members serve on a volunteer basis – they do not get paid for their service.


Membership Eligibility

Due to state and federal statutes, credit unions cannot serve the general public. People qualify for credit union membership through some type of “common bond”.  This common bond may be an employer, an organizational affiliation like churches or social groups, or by belonging to a specific local community.


Financial Education for Members

Credit unions assist members to become better-educated consumers of financial services. For example, credit unions have partnered with local schools and organizations like FoolProof and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) to bring reliable financial education to ALL consumers.

People Helping People

Credit unions exist to help people, not make a profit. The goal is to serve all the  members well, including those of modest means – every member counts. Members are fiercely loyal for this reason. They know their credit union will be there for them in bad times, as well as good. The same people-first philosophy encourages credit unions and their employees to get involved in community charitable activities and worthwhile causes.