A Credit Union Conversation

A Credit Union Conversation

What’s the deal with credit unions? 

Credit unions exist to help people and were first established to help the unserved and underserved in the community. 
Credit unions are not-for-profit, member-owned financial institutions that exist to serve the financial needs of our communities.  We’re governed in a democratic way by a volunteer board of directors who are also credit union members.

See the full timeline of the  history of credit unions .

See the full timeline of the history of credit unions.

How the first credit union got started:

The first credit union was created in Europe, the idea of have a cooperative network for a financial institution based on the principles of mutual support and self-governance quickly found its way to the U.S. in in the early 1900s.

Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union was established in 1939, serving ABECU employees and their families.  ABECU expanded to the surrounding community in St. Louis, MO and American Eagle Credit Union became the local, community credit union to serve more the of the surrounding St. Louis community and beyond.


Credit unions step up in times of need

Credit unions exist for many reasons, great rates, better loan options, etc. But credit unions also tend to step up in desperate financial times for our members.

“In fact, credit unions increased their lending to members when they needed it most by making loans banks refused to: From 2007 to 2010, credit union business lending increased as a percentage of their assets while banks’ small business lending decreased. And credit unions have only continued to gain Americans’ trust. In the past 10 years, our industry has seen membership increase roughly 30% and assets grow almost 80%.” - Credit Union Times

In 1924, Joseph Stern, an artist at the Boston Herald, created the “Little Man Under the Umbrella” as a the first logo of the credit union movement

In 1924, Joseph Stern, an artist at the Boston Herald, created the “Little Man Under the Umbrella” as a the first logo of the credit union movement

Credit unions and exclusivity 

A common question: Isn’t it hard to join a credit union?

The short answer: No.  If you’re looking to join a credit union, consider searching for one where you live. 

There’s a myth about a difficult credit union membership process; that’s simply not true. Credit unions serve a common field of membership based on different criteria: 

  • Employment

  • Geographic Location

  • Family members

  • Membership within a group (such as a church, school/alumni, homeowners’ association, etc.)

You can also search for an American Eagle Credit Union near you.



And we’re protected by the NCUA

Credit unions are protected by the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration), an independent federal agency created by Congress to regulate, charter, and supervise federal credit unions.  The NCUA insures up to $250,000 for anyone with a checking account, savings account, money market account, or certificate of deposit (CD).  Higher amounts may be insured depending on the account.



The Benefits of Being a Member

(We call these ‘member benefits’.)

Finding better rates and lower fees.

Because stakeholders are members, credit unions are typically able to offer higher interest rates on savings and deposit accounts and lower interest rates on loan products and credit cards.

There’s a wide variety of financial services available.

Credit unions offer a variety of financial services.  From credit cards (with great rates) to auto, home, or student loans, credit unions have many of the same products available that banks do.

Credit unions are happy to share free, financial education resources.

Credit unions want to make managing money easier.  Check out most credit unions that will have resource centers on their website.  Our CU resource center has topics such as: 

The cooperative network makes us different.

While every credit union is different, many are part of a co-op network.  Credit unions who are part of the co-op network can conduct business with members from any other credit union who is part of the co-op network, just as if you were at your home branch.  They’re all over the country, and make being part of the credit union easier.

What does it take to join a credit union?

The online application process should take about 10 minutes.  All you need is $5, your ID and social security number. (And any current account information you’d like to transfer if applicable.)

Additional questions about credit unions or credit union membership?  Send us an email.

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