NCUA vs FDIC: Understanding the Differences

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You deposit money in the bank because it’s safe and always available when you need it. But who ensures that the money kept in banks and credit unions is safe? That’s the job of the FDIC and the NCUA.

The FDIC is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the government agency that insures customer deposits in banks and thrift institutions. FDIC insurance covers all deposit accounts, from checking and savings to CDs and money market accounts, and even some types of retirement accounts. The FDIC provides up to $250,000 of insurance per depositor, per bank, per category of account.

The NCUA, or National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, insures accounts at federal credit unions, such as regular shares and share draft accounts. NCUA coverage also insures up to $250,000 in total deposits per owner, per insured credit union, per account category.

For all intents and purposes, the two types of coverages are identical, but FDIC insurance applies at banks and NCUA insurance applies at credit unions.

What FDIC insurance protects

It’s helpful to understand what kinds of accounts qualify for FDIC insurance protection. Here’s the rundown:

Type of Account
Description of AccountCoverage Limit
Checking accounts
An account you can write checks against

$250,000 per owner, per account
Negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) accounts
An interest-earning account you can write checks against
$250,000 per owner, per account
Savings accountsAn account you can save money to, generally earning interest$250,000 per owner, per account
Money market deposit accounts (MMDA)An interest-earning account that usually pays more than a savings account and offers limited check-writing ability$250,000 per owner, per account
Time deposits, such as certificates of deposit (CDs)An account with a fixed interest rate and fixed date of withdrawal$250,000 per owner, per account
Cashier’s checks, money orders, and other official items issued by a bankA check or printed order for payment, guaranteed by the bank$250,000 per owner, per account
IRA, 401(k) and KEOGH retirement accountsSelf-directed retirement accounts with assets invested in deposits like savings, CDs, or MMDAs (speculative investments held in such accounts are not insured)$250,000 per owner for total of all retirement accounts with the same owner
Revocable trust accountAn account owned by one or more people that names one or more beneficiaries to receive the funds upon the death of the owner(s). $250,000 for each named beneficiary
Irrevocable trust accountAn account held in connection with an irrevocable trust $250,000 for the trust

What accounts are not protected under FDIC insurance

As noted in the table above, speculative investments are never insured by the FDIC, only deposit products. Speculative investments include products such as:

  • Stock investments
  • Bond investments
  • Mutual funds
  • Life insurance policies
  • Annuities
  • Municipal securities
  • Safe deposit boxes or their contents
  • U.S. treasury bills, bonds or notes

How to maximize FDIC insurance

There are a few ways to make sure you’re insured for as much as possible. They include:

  • Get an account for each family member. The FDIC insures up to $250,000 for each account owner, so if you and your spouse both have accounts at a bank, you’re insured for $250,000 each.
  • Open a joint account. The FDIC insures joint accounts separately from single-owner accounts, so you’d be insured for an additional $250,000 here.
  • Open 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. A revocable trust account is insured for up to $250,000 for each unique beneficiary.

What NCUA coverage protects

When it comes to credit union accounts, here’s how NCUA coverage works:

Type of Account
Description of AccountCoverage Limit
Single ownership accounts
All credit union accounts with a single owner

$250,000 for all single-ownership accounts owned by the same person at one institution
Joint accounts
Accounts owned by two or more people with equal rights to withdraw money and no named beneficiaries
$250,000 per account owner
Retirement accountsTraditional and Roth IRA accounts and KEOGH retirement accounts$250,000 total for all IRAs and
$250,000 for KEOGH accounts
Revocable trustsAccounts owned by one or more people that name one or more beneficiaries to receive the funds upon death of the owner$250,000 per each named beneficiary
Irrevocable trustsAccounts owned by one or more people that name one or more beneficiaries to receive the funds upon death of the owner$250,000 per each named beneficiary

What NCUA coverage does not cover

Just like the FDIC, speculative investments are never insured by the NCUA, only deposit products. Speculative investments include products such as:

  • Mutual funds
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Life insurance policies
  • Annuities offered by affiliated entities

How to maximize NCUA insurance

  • Open single and joint accounts. NCUA insurance covers up to $250,000 per account owner, per type of account, so you’ll be covered for up to $250,000 in your single-owner accounts and another $250,000 (per owner) in your joint accounts.
  • Open an account for each family member. Since NCUA insurance covers up to $250,000 per account owner, each account owner gets $250,000 of coverage for all single-owner accounts combined.
  • Open accounts at more than one credit union. You’ll be insured for up to $250,000 on your accounts at each institution.

NCUA vs FDIC: Is your account insured?

Determining if your funds are protected depends on where they’re located:

Bank account: You can ask your bank representative, search for the FDIC sign at your bank, or call the FDIC at 877-275-3342 to see if your account is covered. You can also use the FDIC’s BankFind tool.

Credit union account: You can ask your credit union representative or look for the NCUA sign at your credit union or on their website. You can also search for your credit union in the Credit Union Locator.

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Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here

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