A Place to Turn if You Hate Your Bank


You have to keep your money somewhere: A credit union can offer a desirable alternative to a bank.

For many using a bank results in frustration. Bank fees continue to tick up: Overdraft fees, monthly service charges and continually rising interest rates on credit card accounts mean that you pay more for letting the bank keep and use your money. You may want to go somewhere else, but where else is there?

Consider a credit union also known as a cooperative financial institution. Unlike banks, which are founded in order to make a profit, credit unions were originally founded to encourage thrift. They are non-profit organizations designed to help members. (This means that there are membership requirements, such as location, profession or particular financial situation.)

Advantages of Credit Unions

Credit unions offer many of the same services as banks, and continue to expand their offerings. The webzine Fine-Tuned Finances points out these advantages to credit unions:

• Lower interest rates on a number of loans, including mortgages, credit card accounts and auto financing.

• Lower overdraft fees. While you still have to pay overdraft fees, it is a matter of $20 with the credit union vs. $39, or more, at a bank.

• Lower ATM fees. Check with your credit union to see if it refunds ATM fees charged by other financial institutions.

• Dividends from profits. It doesn’t happen often, but if your credit union does end up with more money than it needs for business operations, the profit is distributed amongst account holders.

Of course, because credit unions are mainly local, it can be inconvenient to keep your money there if you travel a great deal. You can get around the inconvenience and avoid fees by checking to see if your credit union is a member of CO-OP Financial Services. You can use a locator to find ATMs that you can use fee-free wherever you travel.

Related Stories:

Switching Banks? How to Chose the Right One

“Reward” Yourself With a Checking Account

Banking 101: How Banks Make Their Money

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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