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moneyAccording to statistics from the Credit Union National Association, or CUNA, these not-for-profit institutions have gained 1.3 million new members last year to reach a record high of total members. While there are plenty of perks to joining a credit union, there are some downsides, too.

Banks tend to have a wider breadth of services and features due to the heavy backing of their stockholders. They also tend to have much larger budgets for advertising, so more people are aware of their offerings. Credit Unions have membership restrictions and sometimes lack the funds to offer some of the same products and services as banks. Smaller credit unions may not have business services, for example. Credit unions have fewer branches for access, but with the ease of point of sale withdrawals, online banking, and direct deposit, this is pretty much a non-issue now.

Consider the following pros and cons:

Customer Service

Pro: Unlike banks, consumers cannot open an account at any credit union they choose.

Con:In the most recent Prime Performance Bank and Credit Union Customer Satisfaction Survey, credit unions beat banks in all categories, with customers rating their overall satisfaction at a new score of 89 percent, seven points greater than the industry average.


Pro: pass on the savings from their not-for-profit status through their entire product line, offering customers higher rates on savings accounts and lower rates on loans and credit card

Con:Banks appear to be dominating the rewards landscape. Of the 50 credit cards in the 2012 Bankrate.com Credit Card Rewards Survey, only five cards were issued by credit unions. While some cards issued by banks offered up to 6 percent cash back in certain spending categories, credit union-issued credit cards topped out at 1.5 percent


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