The Results Are In: Americans Still Prefer Banks Over Credit Unions

Credit unions may be gaining the attention and membership of Americans at a rapid pace, but according to the newly released results of our American Banking Preference Poll, they’re still a long way from becoming the average person’s primary financial institution.

Since 2011, there has been a heightened awareness surrounding banking practices and fees, prompting many consumers to reevaluate their current relationships with financial institutions and often, make the move from a national institution to a community bank or credit union. In fact, Space City Credit Union told us that its membership base has doubled since 2011, noting, “Growth like that speaks for itself.”

However, the impassioned focus on local banking that sparked following movements like Bank Transfer Day has become noticeably subdued, which is why we launched a month-long poll to determine where Americans are really choosing to bank today. We found that while credit unions are indeed popular, banks still hold a majority of consumers’ money.

Poll Details

The American Banking Preference Poll — by no means “scientific,” but rather an informal snapshot of which direction consumers are leaning — asked respondents to identify which type of financial institution they prefer to bank with: National banks, community banks, or credit unions. The poll ran across a number of general news, arts & entertainment and reference websites from from June 12 to July 11, 2013.

Additionally, we partnered with a handful of major outlets in order to gather a subset of data belonging to respondents who are particularly interested in business and finance news:

The results between the general poll and subset were strikingly different with a much stronger inclination toward credit unions among respondents who are visitors to and our partner sites above.

Community Banks Are America’s Preference

Overall, community banks were the top choice among poll respondents, with 41.2 percent stating they prefer local banks over national banks and credit unions. Financial not-for-profits came in second place, however, with 34.4 percent of votes, while national banks ranked third with 22.9 percent (1.5 percent chose “other”).

“It is no surprise to me that community banks would chosen as the most popular type of financial institution,” commented Andrew Howard, publisher and managing editor of “Community banks typically always have a strong leadership presence in their communities, along with local decision-making authority. There will always be a strong demand for community banks within our financial system, and the results from this survey show that,” he explained.

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