Research Proves Consumers Know Diddly Squat About Credit Unions

*As appeared in The Financial Brand.

What consumers don't know about credit unions is a lot. There are still many myths and misconceptions surrounding what credit unions are, what they offer and who can join.


Many consumers still think you have to belong to a labor union to become a member. They assume credit unions have limited products and services. They believe credit unions are technologically inferior to banks, and that banks have better security. While credit unions have always had a big awareness problem, these research findings show how much work they have to do.


40% of non-members think they can’t join a credit union.


45% of Americans believe banks offer more products and services than credit unions
— Affinity FCU/Harris Poll


3 out of 5 Americans think credit unions don’t offer mortgages.
— Affinity FCU/Harris Poll



Over half (55%) of Americans believe credit unions don’t offer mobile/online banking.
— Affinity FCU/Harris Poll


64% of non-members are not familiar with credit unions.
71% of Millennial non-members are not familiar with credit unions.


Top 10 Obstacles to Joining a Credit Union
38% Inconvenient branch locations
33% Not enough branches
25% ATMs are inconvenient
19% Don’t have the type(s) of accounts I need
16% Not eligible to join
16% Don’t know where a credit union is located
12% Don’t have the types of services I need to access my account
12% Rates are not competitive


3 in 10 Americans say it is difficult to find a credit union they can join
— Affinity FCU/Harris Poll


Only 16% of Americans use a credit union as their primary financial institution. 84% don’t.
— Affinity FCU/Harris Poll


1 in 4 people who use a credit union don’t identify themselves as a credit union “member”.
— CUNA Mutual


16% of current members say they would not consider a credit union again.
38% of these said this was due to inconvenient branch locations.
— RAND Corporation


Do credit unions care more about their members than banks do?
61% yes
39% no
— Affinity FCU/Harris Poll


64% don’t know that credit unions are not-for-profit.

Zac Garver

Zac didn’t realize that Copywriter was an actual job when he earned his degree in Creative Writing. He’s been fortunate to make a living as a professional writer since 2010; although people still think he gets paid to put copyright symbols on things (sigh). A devoted family man and Maker, Zac saves money by fixing and building the things he doesn’t want to buy.

3 Questions for Zac:

  1. What was your very first job?

    I worked as a dishwasher in a local pizza shop. It was a wonderful job for a 15-yr old, lots of grease, soap and free pizza.

  2. What's the weirdest food you've ever eaten on purpose?
    I put mint-chocolate-chip ice cream on homemade rhubarb pie and refused to admit how disgusting it was.

  3. What would people be surprised to know is on your iPod?

    An entire album of humpback whale songs.