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What Are Credit Unions?

Credit unions are financial co-operatives that provide loans and savings to their members, just like traditional banks, but typically on much better terms.

That's because banks are obligated to their shareholders and not their customers, whereas credit unions are owned by their “customers” (called members) who use their services, so their well-being is of primary concern.

Unlike banks, credit unions take their profits and use it to help members with low interest loans and other financial services.

Credit Union of Southern California has been in business for over 60 years, and we are the fastest growing credit union in Southern California. We provided $15.2 million in direct financial benefits to our Members in 2019 alone.

We are proud to offer low-interest loans, a higher yield on savings accounts, lower fees, and many other important financial benefits to our Members.

If you want to create a credit union online account with CU SoCal, give us a call or open your account here!

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How Do Credit Unions Compare To Banks?

Banks and credit unions are financial institutions with a few fundamental differences.

First and foremost, banks are committed to their profitability over everything else and they do business with anyone as long as they don't have a negative financial history.

But what does a credit union do? They are non-profit organizations that serve their members only, offering similar financial services as those provided by traditional banks, but typically at a lower cost and with better benefits.

Advantages of Credit Unions

There are several benefits of joining a credit union, ranging from financial perks to quick and friendly customer service.

Although credit unions operate the same way a bank does – with regards to the services offered – credit unions are a better resource for personal financial management. For a full breakdown on what credit unions offer, please refer to the benefits listed below:

Higher Savings Rates

Credit unions tend to offer a higher interest rate on savings. This is because they are not focused on making profits, but only covering their operating costs.

Since profits are not part of the vision or business plan, and are far from the credit union’s entire reason for being (like a traditional bank), credit unions are generally able to offer better deals to their members in the form of better rates on savings accounts, certificates, mortgages, credit cards, and other financial services.

Lower Interest Rates

The second most significant benefit of credit unions is their lower interest rates on loans. Due to their non-profit focus, credit unions can offer the best interest rates to their members.

What’s more, credit unions can offer additional discounts if you sign up for automatic payments, make all of your payments in full and on time, or satisfy other eligibility criteria.

In some cases and at certain credit unions (like CU SoCal), these benefits can mean that members are able to save significant amounts of money on automobile loans, student loans, and mortgages.

Lower Fees

The fees for monthly services at credit unions are typically considerably lower when compared to traditional banks.

Usually, credit unions charge minimal fees for transfers and even for overdrafts, which are major moneymakers for banks. Also, there is no ATM fee associated with many credit unions (like CU SoCal).

These reduced fees mean that you can save a considerable amount of money by joining a credit union instead of utilizing a traditional bank.

Better Customer Support

Credit unions are not obligated to stockholders; therefore, they can focus on supporting their members.

This shifts the entire ethos of the business from focusing on maximizing profits to providing the best customer support possible.

Moreover, a credit union has more customer-friendly policies in place for overdrawing your checking account or having a lower credit score, making credit unions much better sources for banking services when you’re new to the banking system, or experiencing credit problems.

Will Work With Bad Credit

If you have poor credit or you cannot qualify for a loan, many credit unions will still be willing to work with you, whereas traditional banks probably won’t even allow you to finalize a loan application.

Credit Union loan officers are simply much more likely to help, providing loan terms that align with your financial situation.  

Not only are credit unions more likely to service customers with less than perfect credit, but they’ll also go out of their way to help educate and support those customers with informative programs on budgeting and creating better financial habits.

Not For Profit

The not for profit status of credit unions offer several advantages to consumers that a traditional bank simply cannot compete with.

These include providing low-interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on financial deposits.

Additionally, credit unions invest their profits back into the organizations, rather than using them to pay shareholders, which means that the better your credit union does, the better you’ll do too.

Why Choose CU SoCal's Banking Products?

People often ask, what is the best credit union? The answer to this question is simple. Any credit union that provides reasonable savings and charges you less while offering excellent customer support is the best credit union out there.

CU SoCal is one such credit union that offers all the banking services you’d expect from a large, traditional financial institution (like a big bank), including mobile check deposit, online banking, mobile transfers and payments, and much more.

At CU SoCal, we strive to provide you with the best financial products and services to help you achieve your financial goals.

CA's Best Credit Union Financial Products

CU SoCal was built with the mission to build better lives through exceptional member experiences.

To make sure we accomplish this goal, we continuously strive to innovate all of the financial products provided to our members.

We consistently make an effort to serve our members with our caring customer support. Our financial products include:

Checking Accounts

A CU SoCal checking account comes with access to 30,000+ CO-OP Network ATMs, far more than the  largest banks, and includes mobile check deposit, bill pay, debit card controls, and the capacity to get your chip-enabled Visa debit card instantly.

You can even earn rewards through our Rewards Checking Account on debit card purchases and also take advantage of our identity theft restoration services.

Savings Accounts

CU SoCal allows you to open more than ten savings accounts to achieve your saving goals.

This account type comes with additional perks like a comprehensive suite of mobile and online services, automated one-touch phone banking, an IRA savings account option, and an optional free debit card.

Your savings account can also save you from getting overdraft penalties on your checking account.

Auto Loans

With an auto loan from CU SoCal, you get competitive rates, flexible terms, and low monthly payments.

Our auto loans are available at rates as low as 3.18% APR, and even if you are going for second-hand cars, we provide financing of up to 120%.

Personal Loans

A CU SoCal personal loan can help you achieve whatever you aspire to with generous limits of up to $30,000.

These personal loans are available for terms of up to 120 months for the lowest possible monthly payment. Members enjoy no application fees, funding fees, or prepayment penalties.

Emergency Loans

We offer emergency loans to help you remain afloat in difficult times.

These loans provide up to $10,000 for each household, and the payments are not due for up to 90 days.

CU SoCal's emergency loan terms last for a maximum of 60 months and can help you achieve the financial stability you need during troubling times.


If you want a mortgage to purchase the house of your dreams, or you simply want to refinance your existing home, CU SoCal can help with that too.

By purchasing a residence through our free Home Rewards online search program, you will eligible for up to 25% rebate from your real estate agent’s commission!

Join CU SoCal Today!

CU SoCal has been serving over 121,000 members for more than 60 years, providing exceptional financial services that offer more value than traditional banks and competing credit unions.

We are proud to provide our Members with all the products, services, expert advice, guidance, and tools that they need to reach financial stability.

Now that you know what credit unions do and what services credit unions offer, and you’ve been introduced to our superior services, we hope you’ll agree to partner with us for your financial needs.

When you’re ready, please feel free to apply for a CU SoCal account today!

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Building Better Lives

Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal) is a leading financial institution empowering those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County to reach their goals and build strong financial futures. CU SoCal provides access to convenient money management services and offers competitive rates and flexible terms on auto loans, mortgages, and VISA credit cards—turning wishing and waiting into achieving and doing.


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