Do credit unions help build credit?

credit-cards-smallCredit unions are confusing to many people, even though they work pretty much like regular banks. One of the things that people wonder about is whether having a loan or credit card through a credit union can help you build your credit history and/or improve your credit score. The answer is yes.

Most credit unions report to at least one of the major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion or Experian — so the payments you make on your loan or line of credit are probably helping you improve your credit rating. This assumes, of course, that you are making your payments on time. (If you aren’t, you could just as easily hurt your credit by using a credit union.)

Note that financial institutions of any sort are not required to report to any credit reporting agency, so the best way to know for sure if a particular credit union is doing so is simply to ask. They will be happy to let you know.

A little background on credit unions might also help here. Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations created to help their members get loans, save money, and do most things they might do at a standard bank. In theory, the credit union should be offering lower rates on loans or credit cards and better rates on savings deposits, because the credit union exists to help its members, not to make a corporate profit. Otherwise, a credit union is essentially the same as a bank in terms of the products and services it offers. Because it operates much like a standard bank, a credit union is likely to report to the credit bureaus, which is good news for you if you are hoping to build or rebuild your credit history.