Our Crash Proof Principle for this week exposes the best kept secret in the banking industry— credit unions.

A credit union is a financial institution in which members cooperate by pooling their money together to provide traditional bank services like loans, savings accounts, and CDs to its members. In the United States, credit unions are nonprofit entities, and their structure is designed to ensure fair dealing and safety.

What makes credit unions such a hidden gem is how they stack up against the commercial banking industry. When you deal with a commercial bank, the profits come from you, the depositor, and go to shareholders who buy stock in the firm. Credit Unions, on the other hand, are non-profit and designed to work for you, the depositor.

All profits in credit unions come back to you in the form of higher CD rates, lower interest rates on loans, higher money market rates and more protection on your accounts. By becoming a member of your local credit union, it’s like you belong to a family business in which all members share in the success, rather than the firm’s investors.

It is no longer true that you must be employed to qualify as a member of a credit union. In fact, any credit union within your zip code will be happy to receive you. And remember, when choosing a credit union always favor the larger ones, because the bigger the family, the more support you’ll have with your accounts.

Our Crash Proof Principle this week is never be a customer when you can be a partner. Find out about how your local credit union can better serve you.