From the outside looking in, credit unions and banks look a lot alike. Both have branches, both offer savings and checking accounts, both have ATMs and mobile banking apps. So, what makes Salal and other credit unions different from all those for-profit banks? It all comes down to an essential difference in why we do what we do.
Stakeholders, Not Stockholders
You see, banks are basically in business to make as much profit for their stockholders as possible. This drive for profit motivates banks to charge higher fees and interest rates while keeping savings rates as low as they can without losing customers. On the other hand, credit unions like Salal are not-for-profit, cooperative financial institutions that are owned by their members. This means that whatever profits we make are returned to our members in the form of benefits like lower fees and better loan rates. Instead of stockholder earnings, our primary goal—the reason we exist—is to further the financial wellbeing of our members.
The Credit Union Movement
Credit Unions have a long history of working together to collectively serve our members better. The American credit union movement grew in popularity during the credit-scarce Great Depression, when groups of workers pooled their resources together to loan money to co-workers who had been turned away by banks.
Solidifying this movement, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act in 1934, ensuring that cooperative, not-for-profit credit unions could level out the credit structure of the United States by providing people with an affordable alternative to for-profit banks. Since 1970, deposits in most federally insured credit unions, including Salal, are insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration.
There’s Power in Numbers
Today, 3,500 credit unions around the country work together to provide services such as CO-OP Shared Branching and ATM Network. As a Salal member, you have access to nearly 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs and over 5,600 branches across the US. Whether you’re in Washington State or Washington DC, you can find a branch or ATM in the CO-OP network and make deposits, withdrawals, money transfers between accounts, and many other types of transactions. You can even move to another state and continue banking with Salal at the CO-OP shared branch closest to your new home. And if you figure in the fact that last year America’s credit unions provided nearly $11 billion in direct financial benefits to their 111 million members, there truly is power in numbers.
Visit our About Us page to learn more about Salal Credit Union.