NCUA vs FDIC: Understanding the Differences

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Updated on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, is the government agency that insures customer deposits in banks and thrift institutions. The National Credit Union Administration, or NCUA, insures deposit accounts at federal credit unions.

For all intents and purposes, the types of coverage the two agencies provide are identical. Both offer insurance of up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution, per account category. We’ll dive deeper into the differences between the two agencies, the protection they offer and how to maximize your deposit insurance coverage.

The difference between NCUA vs. FDIC insurance

The main difference between the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the National Credit Union Administration are the institutions they insure. Both are federally backed institutions with functions and limitations that are virtually the same.

FDIC vs. NCUA Insurance
FDICNCUA
Who is insured?BanksCredit unions
How much is insured?$250,000 per account owner, per institution, per ownership type
What accounts are insured?
What ownership types are insured?
  • Single ownership
  • Joint ownership
  • Revocable trust account
  • Irrevocable trust account
  • Business accounts
What accounts are not insured?
  • Stock investments
  • Bond investments
  • Mutual funds
  • Life insurance policies
  • Annuities

NCUA vs. FDIC: Insurance limits

Both NCUA and FDIC insurance cover up to $250,000 per account owner, per institution, per ownership type. That means that if you own a single savings account without a joint owner or beneficiary at Bank A, the money in that account is insured up to $250,000. Any money above the $250,000 threshold in that account won’t be insured.

NCUA vs. FDIC: Insured accounts

It’s helpful to understand which kinds of accounts qualify for NCUA or FDIC insurance — and which ones don’t. In addition to the insured accounts listed in the table above, FDIC and NCUA insurances also cover:

  • Negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) accounts
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs)/time deposits
  • Cashier’s checks, money orders and other official items issued by a bank
  • Deposit IRA, 401(k) and KEOGH retirement accounts

We specify “deposit retirement accounts” above because not all IRAs, 401(k) plans or KEOGH accounts are FDIC- or NCUA-insured; those that are investment accounts are not insured.

Speculative investments are never insured by the FDIC or NCUA. In addition to the uninsured accounts listed in the table above, speculative investments include:

  • Municipal securities
  • Safe deposit boxes or their contents
  • U.S. Treasury bills, bonds or notes

Certain investments are still insured, just by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

How to know if your institution is insured by the FDIC or NCUA

It’s important to note that not all credit unions are NCUA-insured, nor are all banks FDIC-insured.

The NCUA automatically insures federally chartered credit unions, which you can check for if the credit union has “federal” in its official name. State-chartered credit unions may opt into NCUA insurance, but are also regulated by the state authority in which it was chartered. To check whether a credit union is NCUA-insured, you can ask a credit union representative or look for the NCUA sign at the credit union or on its website. You can also search for your credit union using the Credit Union Locator.

Meanwhile, most banks are FDIC-insured, but you can check its insurance status using the FDIC’s BankFind tool, calling the FDIC at 877-275-3342, asking a bank representative or checking the bank’s website or branch for Member FDIC signage.

How to maximize FDIC and NCUA insurance

There are a few ways to make sure you’re insured for as much as possible with both NCUA and FDIC insurance. Specifically, this includes the following:

  • Open single and joint accounts: Both the NCUA and FDIC insure joint accounts separately from single-owner accounts, as it counts under a different ownership type. Opening a joint account would insure you for an additional $250,000 per person.
  • Get an account for each family member: Instead of keeping your child’s or spouse’s money in a single ownership account under your name, consider opening a separate account for your child and another for your spouse. That way, each account can be insured up to the maximum amount separately.
  • Open accounts at more than one institution: You’ll be insured for up to $250,000 on your accounts at each institution. You may also want to consider having accounts at credit unions and banks to take advantage of both NCUA and FDIC insurance.
  • Create a revocable trust: This is an account owned by one or more people that names a beneficiary (or more than one) to receive the deposits upon the death of the owner. The FDIC and NCUA insure revocable trusts for up to $250,000 for each unique beneficiary. That means if you have two beneficiaries on a single account, that can be insured for up to $500,000.

Here’s a look at how you can have much more than $250,000 insured if you spread out your money between different accounts and ownership types:

A Look at How You Can Increase FDIC and NCUA Coverage

Account type

Single ownershipJoint ownership (two owners)Deposit insurance
Funds in Bank A$100,000 in a savings account with two beneficiaries$100,000 in a checking account$500,000 for the single savings account

$500,000 for the joint checking account
Funds in Credit Union Z$5,000 in CDs
$5,000 in a money market account
$10,000 in a savings account with one beneficiary$250,000 for the single owned CDs and MMA

$500,000 for the joint savings account

Total FDIC insurance: $1 million
Total NCUA insurance: $750,000
Total maximum insurance: $1.75 million (for your $220,000 in deposits)