Article | March 1, 2022

The Credit Union Difference: Myth vs. Fact

Community & Announcements

Two smiling Golden 1 employees posing for a selfie holding the number one sign with their index fingers

Misconceptions may leave you missing out on the real advantages credit unions can offer. Here are the facts.

Myth #1: Credit unions are no different than banks.
Banks are for-profit companies, while credit unions are non-profit cooperatives owned by their members. If credit unions make a profit, it goes back to the members — for instance, in the form of better interest rates on deposits or even dividends.

Myth #2: Only certain groups of people can join.
Today, credit union eligibility requirements are pretty broad. In fact, Golden 1 membership is open to anyone who lives or works in California, relatives or registered domestic partners of members, and people who work for select employee groups.

Myth #3: Credit unions have limited services and products.
Most credit unions have products and services similar to banks, including:
Checking and savings accounts
Credit cards and other lending options
IRAs and other investment products
Insurance solutions
Financial advisors 
Convenience features like person-to-person payment, wire transfers and credit score assistance

Myth #4: Credit unions don’t have many fee-free ATMs.
Credit unions typically have their own ATMs and many also participate in large national ATM networks. For instance, Golden 1 gives its members fee-free access to more than 30,000 ATMs nationwide.

Myth #5: Your money isn’t as safe.
Credit unions are highly regulated, with oversight conducted by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA). And deposits are federally insured, just like at a bank.

Myth #6: Credit unions don’t offer rewards.
Some credit unions offer rewards programs linked to their credit or debit cards. Many have money-saving member perks, like cash rebates or discounted tickets to sporting events. Plus, credit unions offer financial advantages like better interest rates, fewer or lower fees, potential dividends, and more. In 2019, Golden 1 gave its members $20 million in dividends.

A partner for you
If you’re interested in joining a credit union, we hope you’ll explore Golden 1 by visiting our website or your local branch, or call us at 1-877-GOLDEN 1 (1-877-3361). If you’re ready to join, you can apply for membership today in three easy steps!

“What’s the difference between a bank and a credit union?” Emily Guy Birken, Dephne Foreman, Forbes, updated May 5, 2020,, accessed May 27, 2021
“What is a credit union?” Lance Cothern, Credit Karma, updated May 17, 2021,, accessed May 27, 2021
“Debunking 9 Common Credit Union Myths,” American Heritage Credit Union, posted Jan. 30, 2020,, accessed May 27, 2021