One of the main things we do here at Good Banks is review banks and the various financial products that they offer, to help our visitors easily sift through complex information to find the best choice based on their needs. In order to do this effectively, we need to take a factual, detailed and top-down approach when we review a bank, credit union of financial product.
Because of this, we’ve structured our reviews in the same format across different product lines to make it easy to compare one bank, loan, mortgage or credit card versus another. For banks, we provide an introduction with some background on the bank, a look at all their account types as well as pros and cons for customers. This same process is followed with slight deviations for all the other products we review – with the aim of giving our readers a standardized experience.
Below you’ll find the current list of all the banks and credit unions that we’ve currently reviewed. While our writing team includes their personal opinions and feedback on the products offered, we strive to accurately represent everything offered by the financial institution.
Reviews Of The Largest US Retail Banks
Reviews Of The Largest US Credit Unions
Banks Vs. Credit Unions – What’s The Difference?
When we break it all down, there are multiple differences between credit unions and banks. But which is best better will truly depend on your financial needs, portfolio and even come down to location. Credit unions are non-profits organization. In order to do banking with any credit union you must become a member by qualification. While often the primary benefit of banking with a credit union is the lower fees and competitive rates, banks may have more financial products to offer. Banks are, on the other hand, for-profit institutions and although tend to have higher fees, they can offer convenience, a broader selection of products and better interest rates.
Credit unions, essentially, were founded to service a particular group or community and are owned by its members. Banks are owned by Investors, shareholders and stockholders but do not require any membership; anyone can bank with, in theory, any bank of their choice.
|Anyone can ‘join’||Membership Required|
|Publicly traded or Privately owned||Cooperative (owned by Members)|
|Higher Fees & Lower interest rates||Lower fees & Higher deposit rates|
|Advanced banking technology||Strong customer service|
|National & International Banking||Few branches but wide ATM network|
|Revenue distributer to Shareholders||Dividends returned to Members|
|FDIC Insured||NCUA Insured|
Although banks and credit unions have their fair share of differences, at the at their core, they were founded to offer financial services to their customers. In other words, they do share similarities.
Both financial institutions typically offer consumers the same range of basic banking products which include:
- Checking and savings accounts
- Small Business accounts
- Certificate of Deposits (CDs)
- Money Market accounts (MMAs)
- Credit Cards
- Retirement Programs (IRAs)
Both banks and credit unions provide similar protections on your deposits up to $250,000 in insured deposited funds. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation provides insurance coverage for the banks, while the National Credit Union Administration oversees the credit unions insurance. If your financial portfolio expands beyond the $250,000, it is recommended to spread your funds across multiple accounts and even institutions. Therefore, no matter which one you choose to do business with, you can rest assured that your money is safe.
Online banking services are offered by both financial institutions, as well. It is not, however, surprising that banks offer a better online service and mobile apps than credit unions. Nonetheless, both their online banking tools offer consumers the ability to make deposits, move money between accounts and pay bills.
Banks and credit unions both take pride in their abilities to service their customers. Both set out to provide excellent customer service but credit unions tend to shine in this category. As they are member-based and tend to serve a particular community, their service is more personalized. Whereas banks often have more branches with more personnel making it harder to develop any personal relationship.
Getting your money is often a priority for most. In this case, both banks and credit unions offer (in most cases) a wide network of ATMs. Most banks offer multiple ATM locations as well as, branches nationally and internationally. On the other hand, being a member of a credit union allows you access to the national CO-OP network of credit union ATMs across the country without any fees.
Banks are financial institutions owned privately or by investors and their main purpose is to return profit to their shareholders. Two types of banks exist: commercial (retail) banks and investment banks. Typically, in most countries, banks are regulated by the national government or a central bank.
Commercial banks service the general public and manage consumer deposits, withdrawals, supplying loans and basic banking services. Investment banks have a more specific clientele which usually are corporations or individuals with a large investment portfolio. Their main focus is providing services that include underwriting, investments and merger & acquisitions.
Overall, banks tend to over more convenience as they have more resources and can offer 24-hour customer service, live chat and even advanced mobile app features. Banks are also typically the primary choice of banking for customers who travel often. These institutions are able to offer international ATMs and banking coverage, as well as great credit card travel reward programs.
About Credit Unions
A credit union is a non-profit financial institution that is formed by a corporation or community group with common economic interests. Any earnings are returned via dividends to the members. Ranging in size, credit unions are owned and controlled by their members, who are also their customers. Another chief difference between credit unions and banks is that credit union require membership. To join, you must meet certain criteria, which is often dependent on your employer, family, geographic location or affiliation to a group, including a professional organization, school, church or even labor union.
Although credit unions are known to offer an exceptional customer service through more personal experience, there is limited access to their branches. In order to make up for this, certain credit union offer a unique service through ‘shared branches’ which allows you to visit other participating union branches nationwide for customer service.
The Bottom Line
The choice between banking with a bank or a credit union, ultimately comes down to personal preference and involves some trade-off. Credit unions will likely offer you lower-cost services and better interest rate options on deposits. But do you meet the membership criteria? Banks will likely provide more convenience, services and products, as well as advanced banking tools and technologies. Research is always recommended before making your choice.