SAN JOSE, Calif. (11/16/09)--Credit unions today are available to everyone and many pay higher interest rates on deposits than banks, said a California newspaper columnist. In the past a credit union was viewed as a “small, hidden-away office, closed to the general public” but credit unions today have “opened their doors to everyone, and offer the same services as banks and savings and loans,” wrote Cliff Pletschet, financial columnist in a Friday column for The Mercury News in San Jose, Calif. While some consumers may believe that the differences in what credit unions pay in higher rates may be too insignificant to make changes in where they bank, there is another reason, Pletschet added. Credit unions are much stronger and better run than most banks and when the economy recovers, their interest rates are likely to rise faster and higher than those paid by banks, William Cheney, CEO of the California Credit Union League, told Pletschet. Pletschet quoted an official at a local credit union about another key advantage of credit unions--low fees. “One of the things that we have found in our research is that people are very frustrated with the fine-print fees they pay at other financial institutions, so we have designed our accounts to eliminate as many of those fees as possible,” Kristin Dove, vice president of marketing at Pacific Service CU, Walnut Creek, Calif., told the newspaper. “As a not-for-profit financial institution, our first priority is to create products that are consumer-friendly, not profit-friendly, so we have created ways for people to pay no or low fees.” Consumers should check out the nearest credit union to examine all the advantages it offers, including better rates on deposits, Pletschet concluded. To read the article, use the link.