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What is a Credit Union?

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, owned by their members, not a handful of stockholders. This not-for-profit status allows us to offer competitive loan rates, excellent dividends and low-cost services.

The idea of a credit union was born in 1849 during the depth of a depression. The mayor of a small German village saw that many of his townspeople were without adequate food, shelter or clothing. He convinced those villagers who were able to pool their resources and make low-cost loans to those who were less fortunate. The concept worked so well that it spread to North America (Canada) in the late 1880s and to the United States in 1909 (New Hampshire). Now, there are over 12,000 credit unions nationwide, with around 70 million members and holdings of more than $315 billion in assets!

What Makes Illiana Financial Different?

As explained above, YOUR credit union differs from banks in some fundamental ways. Here are some other ways YOUR credit union is different, and why the credit union uses some of the strange terminology it does.

Share Account. Your Savings Account at the credit union is really called a "Share Account" because you are a "shareholder", making you an owner in the credit union.

Dividend. The interest paid on your savings is called a "dividend," because it's really the money you have earned as a shareholder.

Share Draft Account. Technically, your checking account is called a "Share Draft Account" because what you are really doing is writing a "draft" against your shares with the credit union.

Volunteer Board of Directors. Most financial institutions have a board of directors. What makes your credit union different is that these board members, all of whom belong to the credit union, volunteer their time to serve. Which brings us to another critical credit union difference....

Democracy. Those volunteer directors are elected by the membership of the credit union. Not only do you have the opportunity to vote for members of the board, but you may run for the board, as well.

Not-for-Profit. Sometimes you will hear your credit union mistakenly referred to as non-profit, Credit unions earn profits, but that money is returned to you in dividends, lower fees or no fees, services, and reduced loan rates. The difference is that the credit union was organized to help members, not for the specific purpose of making money.