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Where's the Closest ATM?

By Will from Holland

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FoolProof is supported by credit unions, so you should hold what I'm about to say at the highest critical level your brain can deliver today. Do that, and I think you'll agree what I say here is the truth.

Where you bank right now isn't something you think about much, right? Checking your balance online, finding an ATM and hoping you have some bucks in your account is about the limit of your banking thoughts.

And let me guess: You bank where your parents bank. If they bank at a credit union, you probably have an account there too. Or if your parents bank with one of those mega-banks, you will most likely have an account there. Am I right?

Do you know that megabanks make billions of dollars for their stockholders but at the same time charge people like us fees to have access to our own money? What's fair about that?

If you're smart, you're not burning money on unnecessary fees at a mega-bank. The card you're sticking in that ATM is from a credit union.

Credit unions are very different than megabanks in a variety of ways:

  • Credit unions are not for profit. They're owned by their members—people like you.
  • Credit unions have volunteer Board of Directors.
  • Credit unions don't have stockholders. All credit union profits go back to their members, in forms such as lower loan rates and less fees.
  • Credit unions are local by nature. Their focus is on the community, not some national master mega-plan.

Do you get it? A good credit union, like Community Credit Union, is ethically "up there." It actually makes decisions based on what is good for its members, not on what will make the most money for the credit union.

Credit cards: Credit unions can make a lot of money on interest when you charge more on your credit card than you can pay off each month. But many credit unions still aren't afraid to recommend the following to every potential credit card holder: Pay off your card each month if you possibly can! Don't finance long-term debt with a credit card!

Do you honestly think you would hear that message from a megabank? If you find a megabank with that message, let me know.

Credit unions also normally save you big bucks on everything from student loans to your first car loan, to your first mortgage. And that's not just me talking: Google "credit unions versus banks" and you'll find thousands of examples of those savings.

"This sounds good," you may be thinking. But from a practical standpoint, why would you want to do business with some local credit union when you may plan on moving far away and need the convenience of a megabank with thousands of branches? Good question!

When it comes to ATMs and branches, the "biggest" bank isn't a bank at all—it's that local credit union back home. Why?

  • Credit unions cooperate. If you're a member of a credit union, you have access to over 40 thousand fee-free ATMS around the country.
  • You have many branches ready to help you.
  • Need a quick cash fill-up from home? Money can usually be transferred to a credit union account from any account—anywhere—overnight.

Which brings me to this question: Since you are going to be spending a lifetime dealing with a financial institution, shouldn't you be dealing with a company that operates the way you believe a company should operate? Why would you feed your money to a fee-charging megabank?

Hope this helps! If you have any questions about your local credit union, Community Credit Union, feel free to stop in and speak with a representative. They're there to help YOU.

Cheers, Will.