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Credit Union Account Options: The Essentials You Need to Know [Guide]

Credit Union Account Options: The Essentials You Need to Know [Guide]

Are you looking for a new banking partner and thinking about credit unions?

Exploring the financial landscape before you make any moves is critical. Understanding the types of credit union accounts that are available will enable you to evaluate the vast offerings with ease. In turn, this can help you make more informed decisions and personalize your banking experience.

In this guide, we examine the multifaceted world of credit union accounts — shining light on the nuances of checking and savings accounts, IRAs and certificates of deposit, and more.

You’ll come away with more than just a deeper awareness of various types of credit union accounts, though. You’ll also see what credit unions truly offer, get answers to FAQs, and ideally feel empowered to select the banking options that are right for you.

Why Understanding Your Options Matters

Life and banking are diverse and dynamic realms. And, the choices you make can profoundly impact your financial well-being now and in the future.

Having a firm grasp on credit union account options isn’t just about the accounts themselves. It’s bigger than that. Knowledge is a gateway to confidence and smart decision-making in matters of money.

Getting clear on what accounts are available at a credit union can help you do things like:

  • Tailor financial solutions to fit your unique needs and preferences.
  • Take advantage of more cost-efficient banking by avoiding unnecessary fees, getting better rates, etc.
  • Build a solid financial foundation to assist you in achieving your long-term goals.
  • Strengthen your community by patronizing a banking partner that aligns with your values and prioritizes supporting local institutions and initiatives.

What Types of Accounts Are Available at a Credit Union

You have a lot to pick from!

Each account type serves a distinct purpose, offering specific features and benefits that address your requirements. From the everyday functionality of checking accounts to the long-term planning facilitated by IRAs to the stability provided by certificates of deposit (CDs), there’s really something for everyone at every stage of their life.

But remember — every financial institution does things its own way. This means you have to research the particular accounts offered at your chosen credit union to confirm the terms, conditions, and other details.

Savings Accounts

Need a place to set aside your rainy-day fund or squirrel away money for a well-deserved vacation? Credit union savings accounts are a terrific way to go. They typically feature:

  • Higher interest rates than traditional banks
  • Dividends on savings paid to members
  • Easy and fast access to your funds

Checking Accounts

Credit union checking accounts are perfect for seamlessly handling daily transactions — like paying rent or contributing to your kid’s fundraiser. Many accounts boast:

  • Lower (or no) fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Widespread, convenient ATM access
  • Overdraft protection to safeguard against overdrawing funds


Planning for the future is a cornerstone of financial wellness. Credit unions’ individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are a kind of investment that can help you accumulate wealth for your post-work years. IRAs offer:

  • Tax advantages, like potential tax deductions or tax-free withdrawals
  • An array of investment opportunities to accommodate different timelines and objectives
  • A degree of flexibility for contributions, distributions, estate planning

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

If balancing risk and returns sounds good to you, you might find credit union CDs attractive. CDs come in a range of durations and the interest rate is tied to the length and amount of the investment. Certificates of deposit are popular because they provide:

  • Fixed interest rates so you know the level of return is locked in
  • A safe means of investing (Your deposit is backed by FDIC insurance protection.)
  • A method to stagger the maturity date (and payout) of your investments

What Else Do Credit Unions Offer?

What Else Do Credit Unions Offer?

Credit unions are full-spectrum banking institutions. They can meet your needs way beyond the basic account types mentioned above.

In fact, many credit unions pride themselves on their comprehensive, high-quality products and services. Having an assortment of offerings allows credit unions to better serve their members over time and helps them maintain a competitive edge.

On top of checking and savings accounts, IRAs, and CDs, credit unions may offer:

Even More Products

  • Loans for every purpose — like mortgages and HELOCs, auto loans, and personal loans with competitive interest rates — so you have access to funds for major life events
  • Credit cards with favorable terms and user-friendly features
  • Youth banking that focuses on financial literacy, promotes early financial responsibility, and provides specialized accounts and educational resources for younger members
  • Credit union business accounts with customized savings, spending, and lending solutions

Support & Services

  • Financial planning and education like consultations, seminars, and educational resources
  • Credit counseling to assist members in managing and improving their credit profiles
  • Debt protection so that unexpected life events don’t jeopardize your financial well-being
  • Access to insurance coverage — life, auto, home, etc.

Why Bank with a Credit Union

People join credit unions for a whole host of reasons. A major motivator is that credit unions aren’t just hubs for necessary financial products and services.

While most credit unions do offer all the accounts, loans, and so on that you’d ever want or need, they are known for plenty of other perks.

Here’s a quick rundown of a handful of things that might inspire you to become a credit union member sooner rather than later.

  • Favorable interest rates — that beat what traditional banks offer — on loans and savings accounts
  • Lower, no, or waived fees, which means a more cost-effective banking experience for you
  • Flexible terms and conditions that work better for members
  • Convenient mobile and online banking tools so you can manage your finances anytime, anywhere
  • Access to worldwide banking facilities via shared branching and ATM networks
  • Community engagement that underscores credit unions’ deep local roots and instills a sense of belonging
  • Exceptional customer service that fosters strong member relationships and support

As you can see, joining a credit union isn’t always solely a financial choice. For some, it's a commitment to a collaborative and member-centric approach to banking.

Addressing Common Questions (FAQs)

You aren’t the only one pondering the types of credit union accounts! Don’t stress — we’ve got answers for you. 

What accounts are available at a credit union?

Credit unions typically offer a range of accounts to meet diverse needs. Account types may include savings, checking, health savings accounts, and business accounts.

How do credit union savings accounts work?

You can use a credit union savings account to securely deposit and grow funds. They function the same as savings accounts at conventional banks. You’ll earn interest on your savings — and credit unions often provide competitive rates, amping up members’ ability to build a financial cushion.  

Why should I consider a credit union checking account?

Credit union checking accounts — which often feature low or no fees, ATM access, and overdraft protection — offer members a user-friendly and cost-effective banking solution. They provide a convenient way to take care of daily transactions, like paying bills or receiving funds. 

Can I open a business account at a credit union?

Yes! Credit unions cater to both individuals and companies. Look for credit union business accounts and services that are designed specifically for companies and entrepreneurs.

So Many Types of Credit Union Accounts to Choose from at VCU

So Many Types of Credit Union Accounts to Choose from at VCU

When it comes to selecting a banking institution, your possibilities are abundant. Credit unions are definitely worth considering as they offer so many options and advantages (and switching from a regular bank is a breeze!).

There are credit union bank accounts — as well as other financial products, services, and support — to cover all your needs over the entire arc of your life. Most credit unions have a range of savings and checking accounts, IRAs, and CDs to accommodate your everyday transactions as well as your longer-term wealth-building goals.

Understanding what accounts are available at a credit union gives you agency, empowering you to select the financial products and services that are right for you.

If you have questions or need assistance exploring new accounts, don't hesitate to contact us. We're here to help.

About the Author

 Jake Turpin, Vice President of Member Services

Jake Turpin, Vice President of Member Services, recently marked his three-year milestone at Valley Credit Union. With more than 15 years of experience in the industry, Jake continuously seeks to strike the ideal balance between exceptional customer service and operational efficiency. Beyond his contributions to the credit union, Jake dedicates his time to coaching his children in baseball and soccer. And when he's not at the credit union or on the field, you're likely to find him at the gym, maintaining a well-rounded and active lifestyle.

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