Three major types of depository institutions—banks, thrifts (also known as savings and loans), and credit unions—provide checking accounts, credit cards, loans, and savings instruments for American consumers and businesses. Although credit unions face the highest overall level of government regulation, each type of institution enjoys some special privileges and limits. For example, thrifts can open up new branches most easily, credit unions pay the least taxes, and banks have the fewest restrictions on the type of loans they can make. All of these privileges and restrictions have historical reasons for existing but, for the most part, no longer make sense. In the long, medium, and short terms, a variety of approaches could improve the quality of depository institution regulation in the United States.