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4 Best Free Resources for Bank & Credit Union Information

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In the United States, anyone that uses traditional financial services – checking and savings accounts, mortgages, and other loan products – is almost guaranteed to be getting these services from a bank or a credit union. While two entities have significant differences including their ownership structure, in terms of the products and services that they offer banks and credit unions are mostly mirror images of each other. There are however more than 10,000 banks and credit unions operating in the country which makes finding and choosing one often very time consuming and overwhelming. Further, staying abreast of trends and changes in the industry is just as cumbersome. In this article we discuss what we view as the 4 best free resources consumers can use to get more information about banks and credit unions in the United States.

1. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) oversees the vast majority of banks operating in the United States and serves as both the provider of insurance to these banks as well as their regulator. The FDIC’s website has a wealth of information for consumers looking to learn more about banks and the banking system in the country. This includes a searchable database of every regulated bank in the country, detailed financial information of each bank, periodic surveys conducted by the FDIC on banking trends in the country and much more. The FDIC website is a great resource for consumers looking to learn more about specific banks or about the banking industry at large.

2. National Credit Union Administration

Credit Unions are not regulated by the FDIC but by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) which functions in an almost identical manner. The NCUA website similarly has a lot of helpful information about credit unions. Consumers can specifically research a credit union to learn about the financial performance and financial standing of the credit union. The NCUA also releases quarterly reports on credit union trends in the United States as well as quarterly regional level data on credit union performance. Because credit unions are member-owned and not-for-profit entities, it is especially important to understand more about the credit unions financial positioning before deciding whether to join one. The NCUA website also includes information to assist consumers looking for answers to questions or that need to submit complaints. 

3. United States Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve website has several sections that contain great information about banks and the banking system in the United States. This includes information on banking regulations, resources for consumers on financial products such as mortgages, data on the average interest rates being charged in the country and a listing of the largest commercial banks in the country (other resources have more a in-depth list of banks in the United States beyond just commercial banks). This resource is ideal for consumers that are a little more sophisticated when it comes to their understanding of the banking system and are looking for more in-depth information about the performance of banking products such as credit cards and mortgages at an aggregate/national level. That said, the website also has great resources for less sophisticated consumers just looking to learn more about the types of banks operating in the country.

4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is easily one of the best available resources out there for consumers in the United States looking to learn more about banks or credit unions. The CFPB is an agency that exists to implement and enforce consumer financial law in the country. Two sections of the CFPB website are particularly valuable for consumers. The Consumer Education section has a wealth of information on several financial products and topics for consumers looking to learn more about how these products and services work, and what is allowable under U.S. laws and regulations. In addition, the CFPB maintains a database of consumer complaints which is updated and summarized each year in an annual report – reviewing this can help consumers understand trends in checking and savings account and credit card complaints. Of all the resources discussed in this article we would highlight the CFPB as being the most noteworthy; the agency exists to serve consumers and regularly updates the sites with new studies and findings into how banks, credit unions and other financial companies’ products are being uses by consumers.

Conclusion

Using these resources will help you stay informed about the overall financial services landscape in the United States and importantly, about changes occurring in the regulation of banks and credit unions and the financial products and services they offer. 

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