What is a Credit Union? Uncovering the Financial Institution Alternative

July 14, 2014

The following part one for the credit union series is from Melissa, the newest contributor to Thirty Six Months, and a lifestyle PR professional in Toronto. You can find more from her at the Domestic Peach.  She’s on a mission to find out if a credit union is right for her. 


After a few years of settling into the professional working world, paying off educational debts and starting to be a regular saver with every pay cheque, many young professionals start making a point of learning more about financial institution services. As hard working individuals in our 20s and 30s, we may have several years in the workforce ahead. However, it is never too early to start planning how you save your money and plan toward your future. In a way, it is crucial!

What is a credit union

Keeping this in mind, I have spent the first five years working closely with my bank to store, save and invest my money. Most of my experience has been positive, but after questioning some of the limitations and stipulations at my bank, I wanted to look at some alternatives.

One good alternative that I was given the opportunity to learn more about has been credit unions. Up until recently, I was unclear about what credit unions are, what services they provide and how they can help me with planning my future. To be honest, I thought this type of institution was purely a monetary loaning stop. Boy, was I wrong!

A credit union is a co-operative financial institution that is owned and operated entirely by its members. A bank owned by its members? Who would have thought?!

This concept first surfaced at the turn of the century, when ordinary working people had little access to banks. Originally, credit unions serviced individuals who worked in specific fields that truly served their communities, such as trade workers and teachers. Presently, credit union services are available for all individuals, providing them with an alternative to banks.

To learn more about what credit unions have to offer, I had an introductory appointment with a very friendly and informative credit union financial advisor, who gave me a detailed overview on the financial institution. I left my first appointment informed and happy to hear that there are other options out there for me to save, grow and plan my money for the future.


Here is a quick overview of credit union services:


  • Chequing and Savings Accounts
  • Loan and Credit Services (Home, vehicle and personal loans)
  • Credit Cards and Debit Cards
  • Investment Products
  • Retirement Products
  • Insurance (Auto & Vehicle, Home & Property, Health)


In this six part blog series, I look forward to learning more and potentially partnering with a credit union on some of my financial services and sharing my experiences with you. As a young professional, I have truly learned that knowing all of your options (especially your financial ones) will put your wallet into the best shape.



You Might Also Like

  • Ronnie July 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t have any experience with credit unions myself. Looking forward to following the blog series to lose my ignorance on the topic!

    • Marissa Anwar July 15, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      We’re really excited, too. It’s a great way to see how far our money can go!

  • Lawrence Berry July 25, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Marrisa,

    As a big saver myself and a recent graduate from Michigan State University, Woo Woo!, Im going into the workforce and I have to look more into credit unions and what they offer. I am currently with two banks and an investment firm, but would live to hear more about your experiences with a credit union. I’ll stay tuned!


  • janice September 24, 2014 at 11:19 am

    very interesting!