DEFINITION of 'Federal Credit Union - FCU'

A credit union chartered and supervised by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA), a federal government agency that functions much like the FDIC. Federal credit unions operate like retail banks with one major exception: every credit union member is also a partial owner of the institution. Credit unions operating under the label "federal" are not directly run by the government or limited to government employees. Rather, they've simply opted to organize themselves under federal credit union regulations instead of state banking laws.

BREAKING DOWN 'Federal Credit Union - FCU'

Some feel that credit unions may be one of the best-kept secrets of consumer banking. Since these organizations are essentially owned by the people who deposit money with them, credit union members often enjoy higher rates on their savings accounts and lower costs of borrowing than customers at traditional banks. Making credit unions even more attractive is the fact that deposits are protected by the the U.S. Treasury similar to FDIC insurance, as long as the credit union is either federally chartered or a state-chartered credit union that has opted to participate in NCUSIF.

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