Banks and credit unions used to be distinct. Banks had the wider product range. Credit unions were more community-focused. 

But the lines have blurred, weakening credit unions' edge. Between 2014 and 2021, credit unions' engagement premium — the advantage from customers' attachment to their brands — fell by 10%, according to Gallup. And the difference in net promoter scores compared to banks fell by 12%.

It's not all bad news. The Harris Poll says credit unions still lead on customer service and personalization. 

That said, The Harris Poll also found Americans think banks are better at digital. Given the rapid shift towards digitalization in the US right now — the Forbes Advisor: 2022 Digital Banking Survey found 78% of Americans prefer banking online — this means credit unions have a lot of catching up to do.

But where should they invest to be more digitally competitive?

To find out, we used our digital banking research platform FinTech Insights to compare US banks' and credit unions' digital banking features (we've excluded neo-banks and challengers, and will be exploring user experience in a future article). 

Here are the key takeaways.