MADISON, Wis. (8/27/10)--Consumers looking to save more of their money from being depleted by rising or new fees at banks may turn to credit unions or smaller banks as an alternative, according to a Thursday article in the San Francisco Chronicle. “The average interest on savings, checking, money market and certificate of deposit accounts fell to 0.99% in July, the first decline below 1% in a decade," the article said, citing statistics from San Anselmo researcher Market Rates Insight. In response to the financial services overhaul bill that became law July 21, banks also have raised or added new fees, the article added. “The result? An increasing number of people, seeing their deposit earnings eaten up by charges, may wind up at smaller banks and credit unions,” the article continued. "Almost 80% of the 50 largest credit unions offered free checking as of April, Bankrate.com data show, while unconditional free checking is no longer offered by the four biggest banks--San Francisco’s Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc.” Another article noted that consumers can save by refinancing their car loans at credit unions. Consumers with decent credit and newer vehicles should look to credit unions to refinance their car loans, said the Las Vegas Review Journal (Aug. 26). The article mentioned Nevada credit unions--such as Boulder Dam CU, Boulder City--that can save members money through refinancing auto loans at lower rates. Many credit unions in the region offer auto-loan refinancing, Daniel Penrod, senior industry analyst with the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, told the Journal. Members with good credit often can save from 0.5% to one or two points, especially if the consumer has a loan from another lender, he added. Credit unions typically offer refinance deals and other car loans in the range of 3.9% to 4.9%, compared with 6.9% at the beginning of the decade, Penrod told the Journal. To read the articles, use the links.