Contributed by ProsperityME

Banks and credit unions are two kinds of financial institutions that help people keep their money safe. These institutions also help people develop a strong personal financial history in the U.S. Most people consider these benefits essential. Money kept in these institutions is insured by the federal government, which means that it is protected. And people need a financial history in order to apply for and receive loans and mortgages, rent apartments, and apply for many jobs. Both types of institutions offer a variety of accounts and services. To decide which kind of institution to choose, consider some of the main differences: 

Banks are for-profit businesses. Anyone with a reasonable credit history can open an account in a bank. Banks generally have many branches, often nationwide. Banking support is usually offered 24/7. 

Credit unions are nonprofit organizations, cooperatively owned by members. They are generally exempt from federal taxes and can receive subsidies. Any profit that a credit union makes is distributed to its members. Credit unions usually offer free financial education classes to members. Credit unions are usually regional.