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.