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IConsumer ReportsI Largest CUs rates beat largest banks rates
YONKERS, N.Y. (1/4/12)--The largest credit unions' rates have beat the largest banks' rates in a side-by-side comparison cover story in the prestigious comparative-shopping venue:  Consumer Reports. And they did so in all areas compared.

"Take on your bank" is the lead four- page spread in an 11-page section on financial services in Consumer Reports' February issue, which is just hitting newsstands and subscribers' mailboxes.

The article leads off with consumers' anger, noting that consumers are "furious at behemoth banks, for myriad reasons: lending practices that helped sink the economy, government bailouts, foreclosures, huge bonuses for CEOs, and now higher fees and tougher account requirements."

It notes escalating fees and predicts that banks will continue to experiment with fee increases, tougher account requirements, cost cutting and new sources of revenue such as sharing customers' marketing data.

It also describes options-- credit unions. The Credit Union National Association  (CUNA) provides information about members with checking accounts and the history of credit unions' progression to full-service financial institutions that "have expanded services to match what you'll find at a bank."  The publication reports that credit unions exist solely for their members, and fees tend to be lower and offers CUNA's website locator to find a credit union.

"Credit unions and smaller banks charge consumers less, our data show," reads a pullout quote.

"The largest credit unions tend to have lower fees on average than the biggest banks," said a chart, "Banks vs. credit unions," in which credit unions were better than banks on all areas compared: noninterest checking monthly fees; minimum balance to waive fees; online bill payment monthly fees; use of another bank's ATM; ATM surcharge fees; insufficient funds; stop payment; and overdraft fees.

The article also compared fees for five service features  at the 10 largest banks by assets and the five largest credit unions. Seven banks had fees in every category; one had fees in four categories, one in three categories and one in two categories.  The fees for the most part were larger than credit union fees.

Only one credit union had fees in all five categories, and its fees were lower than banks'.  The rest of the credit unions had fees in only two categories--most of them charge overdraft fees and stop payment frees, which were lower than their bank counterparts.

To review the fees, use the resource link for the full article.
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