The first model of a credit union was started in Germany in the 1850’s. By the start of the 1900’s, credit unions had spread throughout Europe. Though they had a similar model as today’s credit unions, the term was not yet adopted so they went by names such as people’s banks, co-operative banks and credit associations.

The first credit union in North America also happened at the turn of the century in 1901, with a 10¢ deposit at the Caisse populaire de Levis in Quebec, Canada. The first credit union in the United States was St. Mary’s Bank of Manchester in New Hampshire and was founded in 1908. Although St. Mary's Bank uses the term bank, it was actually the first credit union in the United States. Credit unions have been a part of the United States for over 100 years! So why is the term still foreign to so many people?

Perhaps is it because the word ‘credit’ might make you think that credit unions only offer credit services. Though they do offer credit services, they also offer savings options, loan products, and insurance benefits.

The word ‘union’ might make people think that you have to be a part of a labor union to join, but that is not the case. It is used to express that the members are united together as a community. This can be confusing for someone hearing “credit union” for the first time.

Hopefully, this helps clear the air about credit unions and who knows, maybe you even learned something!

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