NEW YORK (1/11/08)--A Wall Street Journal columnist who was looking to refinance a home equity line of credit (HELOC) found--after thorough price shopping--that her credit union offered the best financing rates. Columnist Terri Cullen, who writes a weekly “Fiscally Fit” personal finance column for the paper, told her readers that she and her husband opened a five-year, $100,000 HELOC in 2003 to fund home improvements. With the end of the term approaching, they needed to refinance. After comparison shopping, they decided on their credit union (The Wall Street Journal Jan. 10). Cullen said her credit union offered a five-year credit line at 6.24%, and unlike her current line of credit, this one offered a fixed rate. She then checked with financial companies--bank and lenders--that she had conducted business with in the past, as well as her primary mortgage company--which would only go as low as 6.49% on the interest rate. Her bank said it would match the credit union’s 6.24% rate, but there were several caveats. Among them: she would have sign up for automatic monthly payments and transfer a minimum of $25,000 to the credit line; and she discovered--after examining the fine print--that there was an upfront interest-only period on the loan’s term, where the loan balance would not decline unless she made additional principal payments. Cullen’s last move was to check a financial information website--Bankrate.com--to do more comparison shopping. The lowest offer she found was a $100,000 line of credit with a 6.25% interest rate, but it was an adjustable-rate credit line. Satisfied that they had the best deal, she and her husband chose to refinance with her credit union.