Credit unions, like Affinity Plus, and banks often get lumped together in the financial services industry. And, in some ways, this is an accurate classification. Take for example the fact that both credit unions and banks offer a complete line of financial products and services ranging from checking and savings accounts to loans, and retirement and investment services. However, there are inherent differences in how a credit union and a for-profit bank operate that would compel people to describe the two as almost exact opposites.
Let’s start by defining the term “not-for-profit” that credit unions use to describe their organizations. Credit unions operate as financial cooperatives so most of the profits they earn are returned back to their members in the form of reduced interest rates on loans, increased returns on savings, and low or no fees for services. (Affinity Plus returns 90% of our profits to members.) As more members join and participate in the credit union by using its products and services, the stronger the cooperative model becomes to benefit the membership as a whole.
Like all credit unions, members of Affinity Plus are part owners of the credit union, and are represented by an elected volunteer Board of Directors who ensures decisions are made in their best interest. Conversely, banks are owned by shareholders and are operated by a salaried Board of Directors who are determined to earn a profit off the products and services they offer their customers. Banks benefit from charging their customers fees and higher interest rates on loans because this means more money for shareholders who are investing in their company. The well-being of customers at banks, unlike members of credit unions, may not be considered in the decisions that are made to charge additional fees, higher interest rates, and more.
The experiences felt from a cooperative model of banking create strong bonds between credit unions and their members. When you hear someone talking about “their credit union”, you’ll hear stories of low fees, friendly service, and personal relationships. At Affinity Plus, building meaningful relationships with our members is priority number one. We exist because of you, our members, and we strive to give you an extraordinary experience.