Credit Union Vs. Banks - East County Schools Federal Credit Union
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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 2 to 200 times the amount in interest you would receive from your local commercial bank. Check out our 2.00%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

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Members LoveECSFCU!

  • Cathy Sprecco with Koala - Australia 2015

    I had a fantastic trip to Switzerland and Austria this past summer with East County Schools FCU and the SD East County Chamber of Commerce. This was my 6th trip with this fun group! The Educator Tour, guided by the infamous Steve Devan, is the perfect way to truly see and experience any country. The train ride through the Alps was a personal favorite and such an amazing experience. Seeing and hearing cows and goats with real bells grazing on the side of the mountains made me want to sing a favorite "Sound of Music" song and look for Heidi or her grandpa around every turn! I really felt immersed in the culture. The extra servings of warm apple strudel helped too!

     I am a single traveler and all worries are put aside on these well-coordinated trips. Almost everything is taken care of for the travelers so I always feel spoiled! The fellow Educator Tour travelers that I have met from other districts and other walks of life have become my life-long friends! These trips are so dear to me that I have a separate savings travel account where I dedicate a small monthly amount to be ready for the next country!

    Come join us!

    Cathy Sprecco - First Grade Teacher in Lakeside Union School District