Confused about banks vs credit unions? We've got you covered. Perfect for college students, discover how to open your bank account at a credit union with our simple guide.


Joining a credit union is different from typical for-profit banks. Unline banks, credit unions operate as not-for-profit financial cooperatives. Being part of a credit union isn't reserved for the wealthy – it's open to everyone. At First Commonwealth, we're committed to inclusive banking. When you open your initial account and become a member, you gain a voice in the credit union.

Establishing Credit with a Low-Rate Credit Card

Your folks were right about starting to build credit in college—it's never too early. When you're ready for your first car or apartment, your credit score matters. A straightforward way to build credit in college is with a low-interest credit card. We offer debit and credit cards, usually with lower rates than banks. No hidden fees, so feel free to compare.

Develop Wise Credit Card Habits

When you get your first credit card, be smart—a big credit limit doesn't mean spend freely. Avoid unnecessary debt by using our free financial wellness tools available in your Digital Banking app to monitor and manage your spending effectively.


When you choose First Commonwealth, you enjoy nationwide access comparable to big banks, coupled with a direct connection to your local community. With numerous locations and membership in a network of over 5,000 shared branches and ATMs, you'll have unparalleled access to your funds, surpassing the convenience offered to most traditional banking customers.


In today's digital age, privacy is more vulnerable than ever. Even before cracking open a textbook, ads for the exact book seem to follow you everywhere. Unlike banks, where your financial history becomes a commodity for trading and selling, credit unions like First Commonwealth prioritize the security of your personal information. We won't share it with others for marketing, and your transaction history and creditworthiness won't be shared with our affiliates for regular business purposes.


Credit unions usually have lower fees compared to banks. Unlike banks that might charge more for various services, credit unions focus on benefiting their members, often offering a more transparent fee structure. This means you can enjoy a more cost-effective banking experience with fewer fees by choosing a credit union.