Credit Union National Association (CUNA)

What is the Credit Union National Association?

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is the largest national trade organization representing the interests of credit unions in the United States.

Understanding the Credit Union National Association (CUNA)

The Credit Union National Association supports local credit unions throughout the United States through lobbying activities as well as compliance, education and training services. The group collaborates with state leagues, individual credit unions and other financial services companies or advocacy groups with aligned goals. Targets include regulatory burdens specific to credit unions at the federal, state and local levels, as well as opposing legislative initiatives making it more difficult for credit unions to operate.

The range of the organization’s advocacy priorities both overlap with and oppose those of other financial service organization associations. Industry-wide concerns such as cybersecurity and general mortgage lending issues might find CUNA in common cause with organizations lobbying on behalf of big banks, whereas issues more narrowly tailored to the tax status of credit unions and the protection of regulatory advantages could pit the interests of big banks against those of credit unions.

In addition to its lobbying efforts, CUNA offers consumer information about credit unions and offers its members resources to assist with professional training and regulatory compliance.

Credit Unions Versus Corporate Banks

Credit unions evolved as an alternative financial services structure to banks, intended to serve specific communities with common interests. Unlike most banks, credit unions generally operate as cooperative structures, which means accountholders become joint owners of the credit union. This allows credit unions to operate as nonprofit organizations, yielding tax and regulatory advantages that do not extend to for-profit banking institutions. Credit unions appeal to consumers because they generally can offer better rates on savings accounts and certificates of deposit, as well as lower interest rates on loans. While deposits in credit union accounts do not qualify for Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance, most credit unions maintain deposit insurance on their own through state or federal agencies, or through private policies.

The regulations regarding who can become a member of a credit union have relaxed over time as courts have broadened the definition of the “common bond” members must have to join. As the pool of potential accountholders has grown, corporate banks have stepped up their lobbying attempts to reduce the tax advantages credit unions enjoy. CUNA’s lobbying arm now includes a federal political action committee (PAC) called the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC), which provides financial support to candidates for political office who support the association’s goals.