Skip to main content

Online Banking

Open An Account  |  Apply For A Loan

Credit Union Vs. Banks

Credit unions are similar to traditional banks in the sense that both institutions offer financial products to customers. Credit union members, like bank customers, have access to checking and savings accounts, CDs, loan products, and credit cards.

Credit unions differ from banks in two distinct ways:

  1. A credit union is a not-for-profit institution. Since credit unions operate as nonprofits, they can offer higher interest rates on savings accounts and CDs, and lower interest rates on loan products and credit cards.
  2. Credit unions are member-focused institutions. A credit union is a cooperative, which means it is owned and operated by its members, as opposed to being owned by its stockholders like a bank. Your initial $5 membership deposit makes you a part owner of the credit union and gives you a say in the credit union’s decisions. You become a Member-Owner.

Because of this ownership structure, potential members must meet membership requirements to open an account. For example, East County Schools Federal Credit Union only accepts as new members school district employees and volunteers and their immediate family members from San Diego’s East County schools. However, once you are a member, you are always a member, regardless of whether you change careers or retire.

Why Choose a Credit Union?

Higher Interest Rates

Credit unions typically pay higher interest rates on all deposit accounts including savings, money market, and checking accounts. These rates range anywhere from 4 to 400 times the amount in interest you would receive from your local commercial bank. Check out our 4%APY eChecking Account

Lower Loan & Credit Card Rates

This is one of the largest benefits of a credit union membership. Because of a credit union’s unique ownership structure, we don’t have to abide by loan restrictions and qualifications mandated by some far-away corporate home office. And being a not-for-profit organization means a credit union doesn’t have to charge exorbitant interest rates, either.

Lower Fees

Credit unions have few fees compared to banks. We offer 30,000 fee-free Co-Op ATMS to use nationwide and shared branches. We offer checking accounts with no minimum balance and without a monthly account servicing charge. This could save you hundreds of dollars a year. Credit unions do charge bounced check and overdraft fees like traditional banks, but the amount is typically less.

Customer Focused Banking

Because our members own the credit union, member goals aren’t at odds with “management.” Therefore, the credit union has more incentive to provide low rates, fees, and great customer service.


We have a robust mobile app and online banking service. But our smaller size really shines when you call or enter the branch. Our Member Service Representatives know most members by name and a human will answer the phone during business hours when you call. And how many banks have a Credit Union to You (CU2U) program where a representative will come to your office for free?


If you have a tarnished credit history or employment issues, or lack a large balance, most banks will deny you a loan or credit card. Because credit unions are smaller and have a member-focused philosophy, we are more willing to work with you even if you have a unique financial past. A credit union may also make exceptions for existing members in good standing should any unexpected issues arise with your application for a loan or credit.


Banks and credit unions can both keep your money safe. If an institution fails, under current law, both FDIC and NCUA provide government backed coverage up to $250,000 per depositor per institution. In most cases, your account ends up at a new institution, and you have the same account number and account balance as before.

  • The FDIC insures funds for banks
  • NCUA coverage protects federal credit unions like East County Schools Federal Credit Union

Financial Education

Intro to Finance

Are you stressed about money? Don't worry - you're not alone and help is available! This program will help you understand key financial concepts and make better decisions related to managing your money.

Intro to Finance Articles

Major Life Transactions

Life is full of big decisions, and it can feel overwhelming at times! This program will equip you to better manage some major financial decisions that may come your way.

Major Life Transactions Articles

Paying for College

Paying for education can seem expensive and overwhelming. But don't worry - you're not in it alone! This program will help you understand the costs associated with financing an education and navigate the application and repayment process.

Paying for College Articles

Retirement Planning

Are you prepared for retirement? This program will help you plan today for the life you want in retirement. Explore important financial planning topics like investment strategies, estate planning, and social security so you can have a comfortable retirement.

Retirement Planning Articles

Members LoveECSFCU!

  • Todd Linke IMG_4888 no wording cropped
    After financing a newly purchased truck with ECS, Todd wrote: Thank you for your efficient and friendly service! I always appreciate the "small bank" customer service, but the "big bank" options!
    Todd Linke, Mount Miguel HS Science Department
  • Karl Danielson 2018
    I've bought three cars through the credit union. They make it very easy, very simple, and you can't beat the interest rate. I highly endorse them, their friendly staff, and the service that East County Schools gives its members!
    Karl Danielson Granite Hills HS Television, Film and Digital Media Teacher
  • ECSFCU is big enough to approve loans with great rates and small enough to provide personal service and products that are important to the educational community.
    Randy Montesanto Grossmont Union High School District
  • We bank with East County Schools Federal Credit Union and learned they also have a great car buying service! We decided to look into it and ended up with the best customer service, an amazing price, no hassle of going to the dealership, and a brand new 2017 Honda Accord Sport! A year later, we were in need of another car for our growing family. It was an easy decision to go with the credit union and New Cars Inc again. The process and customer service didn’t disappoint once again, and we love our new 2018 Honda CRV! A big thank you to New Cars Inc and ECSFCU!
    Carly and Luke Esquerra