Does Gen Y Know What a Credit Union Is?

If I didn't know what a credit union was, I never would have joined.


I recently wrote an article, "Gen Y Perspective: Why My PFI is a Credit Union," in which I discussed why I am a member of a credit union.  The main reason being, I know what a credit union is.  If I didn't know, I never would have joined one. 

Credit union employees have a constant stream of information that supports my position; that most of the 215 million non-members in the United States (and many members) don't know the difference between a credit union and a bank.  I know that many of us don’t care to be generalized by the generation we fall into. However, it is a widely accepted fact that like our parents, members of Gen-Y tend to be more socially conscious and align our consumer/professional lives with our core beliefs.

This leads me to believe that credit unions truly would be the primary financial institution of many members of my generation…if they only knew.

Callahan & Associates Gen Y consulting arm, CYouth, interviewed several students about the difference between banks and credit unions.  

from the interview, it is evident that almost none of the students are even aware that credit unions exist.  The one student that does seem to be aware of credit unions says that she "would prefer.. a credit union over a bank" but that she didn't join a credit union because there wasn't one "readily available" and choosing her PFI was a "spur of the moment" decision.  I think that this footage lends support to the notion that perhaps the most important factor in choosing a PFI is convenience. 

This may be the second biggest hurdle credit unions face when targeting my generation. Even with the advent of online and mobile applications, studies show that many consumers (Gen-Y and other) like to conduct certain transactions on-site. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – I believe 2010 should be a year of informing as many people as possible about the obvious benefits of joining a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution (then we can educate them on the benefits of shared branching and ATM networks). So far we are off to a good start.


Jan. 15, 2010


  • The video was quite eye-opening to see how many college students (youths) have no clue what a credit union is or how it is different from a bank. There is quite a need for educating not only our youth but the general public as well. As a parent of two teenage daughters I will continue to educate them on the advantages of a credit union.

    Thank you.
  • I loved the video with the college students.
    Nancy McArthur