The Wednesday letter to the editor, "Credit unions benefit from corporate welfare,” missed the mark: Credit unions aren’t the same as for-profit banks.

Wisconsin credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives chartered solely to serve members by improving their financial condition. Without stockholders to profit, earnings are returned to help members save thousands of dollars each year through better loan and savings rates and fewer fees. Statewide, credit union members saved over $220 million in 2017 alone.

Fulfilling that purpose also benefits the communities members live in. For example, Wisconsin credit unions operate student-run branches in communities all across the state. These branches don’t make money for credit unions, but are valuable for encouraging students to save earlier. In making that decision, they prioritize what’s best for people over profit. Wisconsin credit unions operate 100 such in-school branches.

Our credit unions serve members in very personal ways too. They work with members facing financial peril due to the loss of a spouse. They help members break out of a vicious payday lending cycle. They help members achieve their dream of opening a small business. They help members develop a plan to pay off student loan debt. Every credit union has stories on how they impact members’ lives and benefit communities because they prioritize people over profit.

Congress acknowledged the credit union difference by reaffirming credit unions’ tax status just last year. In doing so, they too reinforced the critical ways credit unions improve the lives of 3.1 million members and strengthen Wisconsin communities.

BRETT THOMPSON

President/CEO of Wisconsin Credit Union League

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