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Credit Union 101

What’s a Credit Union?

This course is easy. There’s no tuition, you can enroll anytime you want, the term only lasts about five minutes and you get to grade your own paper. So, are you ready to enroll in Credit Union 101? Then take your seat.


Class is now in session!
A credit union is similar to a bank, thrift or savings and loan in that a credit union provides financial services to a group of customers. But there are distinct differences that set a credit union apart from other financial service providers. Here’s how you tell the difference.


Ownership – Credit unions are owned by their customers.  But instead of customers we call them “members”.  Other financial institutions have stockholders who own the institution. A stockholder can own a share of stock in a commercial bank (for instance) but never have to actually transact business with that bank. A credit union member, on the other hand, is both an owner and “user” of the credit union to which they are a member.  When a person joins a credit union part of their initial deposit is their “share” of ownership in the credit union.  In order to be considered a “full share” member of a credit union a member must have the “minimum share balance” on deposit at the credit union.  This minimum share balance is the members money, not a joining fee or membership dues.  The deposit of a full share in the credit union simply signifies that an individual is a full fledged member and entitled to all the privileges and services membership provides.


Control – Stockholders control a commercial bank.  And the more stock you own the more you control.  A credit union, on the other hand, is democratically controlled.  Each member has an equal say in the control and direction of the credit union.   Regardless of how much a single member may deposit in the credit union it’s still one member, one vote.  And credit union members get to elect a board of directors from among themselves.  If an individual is a member of a credit union they are also eligible to run for and serve on the credit union’s board of directors.


Compensation – The board of directors of a commercial bank receives compensation for having served on the bank’s board.  A credit union board, on the other hand, serves on a voluntary basis with NO COMPENSATION.  In otherwords, a credit union’s board is not in it for the money.


Operating Structure – The profits of a commercial bank are paid to the stockholders.  That is why a commercial bank is referred to as a “for profit” institution.  Each time a customer transacts business with a commercial bank a portion of (a) the interest they pay on a loan, (b) the interest they could have earned on their deposits or (c) the fee they pay for other services goes to pay a return on the stockholder’s investment.  A credit union, on the other hand, is referred to as a “not for profit” institution.  Since there are no stockholders excess profits are returned to the members in the form of (a) reduced interest rates on loans, (b) increased dividend rates on deposits or (c) low or NO charge for other services.


Deposit Insurance – Deposits into a commercial bank are generally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC up to $250,000. The FDIC is an agency of the United States government. Deposits in a credit union are insured by the National Credit Union Administration or NCUA up to $250,000. The NCUA is an agency of the United States government. OK, so there’s not a lot of difference in the deposit insurance. Though, they have different names, both agencies are backed by the full faith of the credit union and U.S. government.

old registerCredit unions trace their origin back to Europe in the 1840’s.  During that time many of the farmers were experiencing crop failures and famine, and economic depression was widespread.  To compound the problem, there was little or no aid for relief available to the people.  A man by the name of Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch began organizing self-help cooperatives so that various craftsmen and workers could save money and receive credit in order to continue working.  Each “member” of the cooperative was required to buy one “share” in this financial cooperative.  Dividends were paid on savings, and loans were made for “productive purposes.”


Two decades later in 1864, a German mayor named Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen wanted to create an organization that would help Germany’s peasant farmers.  Because German banks of the 1860’s would not lend money to them, these farmers were forced to borrow from money lenders who charged exorbitant interest rates and who were quick to foreclose on the farmers when payments were not made on time.  Raiffeisen studied the cooperative Schulze-Delitzsch had created two decades earlier and started a credit cooperative known as Heddesdorf Credit Union.


By the early 1900s credit unions were popping up everywhere.  In Boston, department store owner Edward A. Filene was making revolutionary strides to help his employees prosper by sharing the profits and benefits of his successful retail operation.  He began a profit sharing program, instituted employee benefits and established a minimum wage and five day work week.  Throughout his travels Filene was able to observe credit unions in action.  He believed that if a credit union helped his employees achieve personal success his business would, ultimately, benefit.  He was right, and in 1909 Filene helped push for the first state law that would lead to the official formation of credit unions in the state of Massachusetts.


Fast forward to October 1929.  The depression hit America and many businesses failed.  Even in the financial industry some 5,000 banks failed during the period from 1930 to 1932.  However, during this same period of time, credit unions not only survived but thrived.  Momentum grew until June of 1934 when Congress passed the Federal Credit Union Act providing for the formal establishment and regulation of credit unions within the United States.


Fast forward again to the year 1950. The post-war economy is booming and the population is exploding.  On January 18, 1950, a group of employees of the Mississippi Employment Security Commission formally petitioned the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions for a charter to establish a credit union to serve the commission’s employees and their family members. By the end of that first year, the credit union had assets totaling $23,645. In July 1971 the credit union reached the $1 million mark. Today, a new name emerged with over $20 million in assets and serves employees and family members throughout the state of Mississippi.”


At BrightView Credit Union, our mission is to provide you with quality, value added financial services that help you improve your quality of life.  We will do this by:


  • Providing the best, most modern financial products and services as reasonably possible.
  • Ensuring that our staff handles your financial needs in a courteous and professional manner.
  • Maintaining the financial strength of your credit union so that we can meet your needs for many years to come.

At BrightView Credit Union we’re always looking for a few good men and women.  We are a growing organization offering employment opportunities to the right people.  Over the next several months we will be expanding and adding opportunities and positions to all levels of our operations.  Here’s what we look for in a potential team member:


  • Strong work ethic
  • High quality personal character
  • Unselfish desire to help other people
  • A willingness to learn and grow
  • Ability to function as part of a cohesive team
  • An interest in technology
  • A positive, achievement focused attitude
  • Good credit


You don’t necessarily have to possess previous financial institution experience in order to be considered.  It’s your attitude that counts.  If what we’ve described interests you, send us your resume’ today so we can be ready to contact you as opportunities become available.  You can send your resume to:


BrightView Credit Union
713 South Pear Orchard Road, Suite 101
Ridgeland, MS 39157


BrightView Credit Union is an equal opportunity employer.  All applications submitted to BrightView Credit Union remain active for a period of ninety (90) days from the date of submission.  If you wish to remain in consideration for future positions after the expiration of the ninety day period you will need to resubmit your application.


Brightview Federal Credit Union is committed to facilitating the accessibility and usability of all its digital properties, including “brightviewcu.com”, to the widest possible audience, regardless of technology or ability. We are actively working to increase the accessibility and usability and in doing so adhere to the relevant portions of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (WCAG 2.0 AA), as its web accessibility standards and guidelines.


If you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any web page owned by Brightview FCU, please contact us at [email protected] Please be sure to specify the particular web page in your email, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page accessible for you or provide alternative solutions.