Thrift Institutions Law and Legal Definition

Thrift institutions include savings and loan associations, savings banks, and credit unions. Thrifts were originally established to promote personal savings through savings accounts and homeownership through mortgage lending, but now provide a range of services similar to many commercial banks. Savings banks tend to be small and are located mostly in the northeastern states.

Like other banking institutions with a significant portion of mortgages on their books, thrifts may belong to the Federal Home Loan (FHL) Bank System. In exchange for holding a certain percentage of their assets in mortgage-backed securities and residential mortgages, these financial institutions may borrow funds from the FHL Bank System at favorable rates.