About Credit Unions
Credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives that are owned by their members. Eligibility to join a credit union is limited to those persons who fall within a credit union's field of membership. Because there are no stockholders to satisfy, credit unions direct their income back to their members in the form of lower fees, higher rates of return and improved products and services. In 2012, the direct benefit to Maine consumers who used a credit union was $38 million as a result, in part, of lower and fewer fees, better rates on loans and higher dividend rates. All consumers benefit from having credit unions as a choice because other financial institutions have to offer rates and services that compete in the marketplace. All credit union members, regardless of the size of their accounts or the amounts they borrow, are entitled to an equal voice in the operation of their credit union. And, credit unions are governed by unpaid, volunteer boards of directors who are elected from and by the membership of the credit union.
What services does a credit union offer?
Today's credit unions offer a variety of products and services to their members. From savings (shares) and checking (share draft) accounts to consumer loans and mortgages, credit unions have what it takes to meet their members' financial objectives. Other services offered by many Maine credit unions include home (PC) banking, ATM cards, Debit cards, VISA Credit Cards, VISA Check Cards, IRAs, direct deposit, payroll deduction, Bill Pay, Check Images and much more. Credit unions also provide members with services that may not be available at other financial institutions. For example, credit unions frequently make special provisions to help members through layoffs and other financial hardship. Unlike many other financial institutions, credit unions routinely provide small loans (less than $500) to members in need. These loans are hard to find elsewhere because they are simply not profitable enough for other financial institutions.
Credit union safety and soundness
Federally chartered credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an independent federal agency whose board members are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Maine's state-chartered credit unions are regulated by the State of Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions. Credit union shares are insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which protects member accounts to $250,000. The NCUSIF is funded by credit unions and no taxpayer money is used for the ongoing regulation and oversight of credit unions.