Credit Unions vs Banks

On the surface, credit unions and banks seem alike. They offer similar services and your money is safe in both institutions. You may be wondering what the difference is between the two and which institution is right for you.

How Credit Unions Compare to Banks

Credit Unions VS Banks

The primary difference between credit unions and banks is ownership. Banks are for-profit companies with a primary obligation to their shareholders. They make money by charging interest on loans and collecting account fees. Credit unions, on the other hand, are not-for-profit institutions owned and controlled by their members, which are account holders. Since credit unions operate to serve their members, the money that would have been profit is instead used to help credit union members. An example would be how People’s provides all members with the same loan rates regardless of their credit score or amount in their accounts.

What is the Benefit of a Credit Union Over a Bank?

For many people, the main advantage of credit unions is that they have lower interest rates for credit cards and tend to offer better savings and loan terms. They also offer a more personalized experience and there is often no minimum, or a very low minimum amount needed to open an account. When you join People’s, you’re treated as a valuable member, not a customer. Your membership begins with a $5 fee and a $50 deposit into your Carefree savings account. Then, if you open any other deposit account all you need is to maintain $5 in your Carefree savings account.

Services That Credit Unions Offer

The products and services available at banks are virtually the same at credit unions, including:


  • Checking accounts and ATM/debit cards
  • Savings accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Money market and IRA accounts
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs)
  • Auto and recreational vehicle loans
  • Home loans


People’s members have access to the services listed above, but what really sets us apart are our membership benefits including:


  • Part of a not-for-profit financial cooperative where you're an owner, not just a number
  • Everyone gets the same rate on loans; including mortgages, auto loans and lines of credit
  • Better dividend rates on deposit accounts and lower fees; Dividends are paid to members, not shareholders
  • Free online, telephone and mobile banking, eStatements and Bill Pay
  • Checking accounts with no monthly fee or minimum balance requirements
  • Free ATM access at thousands of surcharge-free ATMs nationwide*
  • Personalized, friendly service from our happy employees


*You will be charged a minimal transaction fee for using a non-People's ATM. At People’s, your money is also safe. Our credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). It covers $250,000 per account holder, per institution. This insurance protects your money the same way the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) does at banks in the event something was to happen.

Before you can open an account at a credit union, you must first qualify for membership. At People’s, joining is quick and easy. You’re eligible to become a member if you live, work or worship in Clark, Cowlitz or Skamania Counties. And if you have a family member who is a current member, you’re eligible regardless of where you live! Once you join People’s, you have access to thousands of surcharge-free ATMs nationwide and you’ll receive free online, telephone and mobile banking. We also have four convenient branches located throughout Clark County.

Should I Join a Credit Union?

Credit unions provide robust financial services and offer excellent member service. When choosing a credit union, it ultimately comes down to the services, products, and fees you’re looking for. If you’re interested in becoming a member with People’s today, visit one of our four branches, or easily open an account on our website!