Banks vs. Credit Unions: How to Pick a Winner

There are pros and cons to both banks and credit unions — which type of financial provider is best for you will depend on what you value most.

Wells Fargo’s (NYSE: WFC) ongoing debacle has created a growing feeling of concern about trusting big banks. As a result, many consumers have turned to credit unions as the obvious alternative for a place to put their money. But before you make such a move, consider what you’d be giving up in the process — and whether it’s worth the trade-offs.

While most people know what a bank is, they may be a little shakier on the definition of a credit union. Credit unions are just a variety of bank — with two important particularities. First, credit unions are operated on a not-for-profit basis. And second, they are cooperatives, meaning that they’re owned by their members (that’s credit-union-speak for customers) as opposed to being owned by shareholders as big banks are.

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