When it comes to banking, residents of Fort Worth and surrounding areas don’t lack choices. But when the Star-Telegram, Fort Worth’s largest daily newspaper, asked its readers where they prefer to keep their money in its annual Readers’ Choice poll, local credit union EECU took home the title of Best Local Bank/Financial Institution/Credit Union.

The Star-Telegram Readers’ Choice poll offers locals the opportunity to pick the best places in town for entertainment, food, sports, shopping and anything else there is to do in the area. Readers choose from any businesses operating in Fort Worth, including national and international chains and franchises. So with dozens options to choose from within the category, the competition is stiff.

“We’re proud to know that the Fort Worth community has made us its go-to place for financial services,” said Lonnie Nicholson, president and CEO of EECU. “We tailor our solutions to our members’ specific needs in order to serve our community in the best way we can, and it’s clear that this commitment truly makes a difference when the time comes for someone to choose where they take their business.”

This is not the first year EECU has received this honor, having taken the title multiple times in past years. The 77-year-old credit union has a strong history of membership within its communities, and was even cited for its strong growth by the Fort Worth Business Press earlier this year. Now that the readers have made their choice, the credit union looks forward to serving Fort Worth in the coming year with the same commitment to meeting needs.

Credit unions are structured differently than banks

Shareholders and investors own a commercial bank, so the bank has a big incentive to generate profits for their owners. Credit unions are owned by the depositor, which means there’s less of an incentive to earn money because that money just goes back to the people who save their money with the credit union.

Higher interest rates on deposits, lower interest rates on loans

Credit unions are able to offer higher interest rates because they don’t have an incentive to generate large profits.

Credit unions are smaller

Most credit unions have a handful of branches and have a smaller footprint than a regional bank. While the smaller size doesn’t guarantee more personalized service, it’s more likely that a smaller bank with fewer customers will spend more time on each person.

Credit unions fail less often than commercial banks

As of the end of May, 44 FDIC insured institutions had failed in 2011 compared to nine NCUA insured institutions. This makes sense because, in general, credit unions take on less risk. Because there is no strong profit motive, they make less risky loans.

The board of directors is staffed with volunteer members

Because the credit union is owned by the depositors, the credit union is also governed and managed by customers. A credit union’s board of directors is made up of its customers and they all serve on a volunteer basis. As for the unusual names for accounts, they also reflect ownership. It’s called a share account to reflect the idea that you are part owner of the credit union.

Original article by Jim Wang at Bankrate.com