Banks and credit unions provide many of the same services but are different entities. Ownership is one of the major differences. A credit union is owned by its members. Commercial banks are owned by stockholders. Size is another: The average bank is 14 times larger than the average credit union, according to the Credit Union National Association.
Products that both kinds of institutions carry include:
- Checking and savings accounts
- Auto loans
- Certificates of Deposition (CDs)
Checking accounts: Opening a checking account gives you the opportunity to set up direct deposit through your employer. The employer sends the money electronically to the bank and allows you to have quick access to your funds as soon as they are deposited. Check with your employer to determine when the funds will be in your account.
Others: CDs, bonds and IRAs are options to keep your cash stashed away for a longer period of time. The interest rate you earn on these may be higher than other highly liquid products, but you will be penalized if you take funds out before the expiration date. Talk to your financial institution about these products if you have extra money you do not plan on using.