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Tired of Your Big Bank? Consider These 4 Alternatives

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Checking account fees, minimal savings rates, impersonal customer support. The reasons you might choose to leave a big national bank vary, but where you go next might be a harder decision.

Many of the biggest U.S. banks share many of the same benefits, including large networks of bank-owned branches and ATMs and robust mobile apps. But they also share many of the same drawbacks, such as high overdraft fees and low savings rates. If you want different benefits to better suit your needs, consider one of these four alternatives to big banks.

Credit unions are not-for-profit, community-focused institutions that generally emphasize customer support. They provide similar accounts, services and deposit protections as big banks, but their accounts typically have better rates. Compared with banks, on average, credit unions pay higher interest rates for certain savings accounts and charge lower rates for auto and home loans, according to June 2021 data from the National Credit Union Administration.

“Credit unions are built around service, not profit,” says Chris Lorence, executive director at CU Awareness, a division of the Credit Union National Association. “Instead of returning funds as dividends to shareholders, credit unions return profits beyond operating expenses to members in the form of better rates, improved services or access to services.”

Each credit union limits who can join as a member based on certain factors. These factors can include where one lives or works, having a relative that’s a member or even being affiliated with a certain group via a small one-time donation. Those membership requirements mean some credit unions aren’t........

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