Some people keep their money at home, instead of in a financial institution. But money held outside a financial institution can be misplaced or stolen, so most people in the U.S. keep their money in credit unions and banks. These are safe places to keep money because accounts at banks and credit unions are insured by the U.S. government, which means they are backed by the credit of the government. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is the governmental agency that protects the accounts of credit union members, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) is the government agency that protects bank customers’ deposits. This system was created in 1933 to protect people in case a bank fails. 

Banking with a financial institution offers conveniences. Most people choose to get a debit card, which allows them to make purchases or payments at stores or online. Financial institutions also have automated teller machines (ATMs), where people can withdraw money from their accounts 24/7. These machines are located throughout Maine, the U.S., and internationally as well. And once someone has an account, their employer can deposit paycheck earnings directly into that account. Also, customers can write checks when they need to pay others or want to make purchases. This is a cheaper, convenient alternative to purchasing money orders – checks save money on fees. 

Opening an account at a credit union or bank usually requires a minimum deposit amount. Some credit unions and banks accept as little as $5 to open an account, but most require between $25 and $100. Most financial institutions use sophisticated online banking tools that keep track of all financial transactions. This is helpful for people who are trying to stick to a budget or understand their spending habits. And representatives can advise people on how to build credit or buy their first car or home. They can also advise account holders on improving their overall financial picture through savings accounts and lending options. Representatives are paid a salary – they do not get a commission from clients.