Difference Between a Bank and a Savings and Loan


Banks and savings and loan associations differ primarily in that separate government bodies regulate the two institutions. Most of the differences between the two institutions have little effect on the average financial customer.


  • A crisis in the late 1980s and 1990s, when many savings and loans failed, brought significant changes to federal regulations on savings and loan institutions. Most of the regulatory and insurance programs for banks and savings and loans were restructured and consolidated.


  • Most banks are regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). A smaller number are regulated by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System or the Comptroller of the Currency. Banks usually are owned by stockholders and traded on the stock market. Banks offer a wide variety of financial services to businesses and individuals.

Savings and Loans

  • The Office of Thrift Supervision regulates savings and loan institutions, also known as savings banks or thrifts. Savings and loans offer savings and checking accounts, and traditionally focus on making home loans. Many savings and loans have expanded into business lending and other investments. Most savings and loans are privately-owned or owned as mutual institutions, in which each depositor is part owner of the institution.


  • The FDIC insures deposits at both banks and savings and loan associations. The insurance limit is $250,000 per account at each covered institution.

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