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FORT WORTH, Texas – Credit unions offer some of the best consumer banking deals around, reported a recent article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Not-for-profit status and. tax advantages were the reasons given for credit unions being able to offer such deals. “As consumers shop around for the best deals in banking services in this very competitive marketplace, one place not to be overlooked is credit unions,” the article stated. Citing findings from CUNA and Bankrate.com studies that showed credit unions to have fewer and lower fees, lower interest rates on loans and higher dividends on savings instruments when compared with banks, the article concluded not-for-profit status and “some tax advantages that credit unions enjoy over traditional banks, has created some of the best consumer banking deals available.” The article acknowledged the steady growth of Texas credit unions, reporting that more than 6.5 million Texans – roughly 32% of the population – belong to one of the state’s 701 credit unions, a 7% increase since 1990. Factors suggested as contributing to this growth are increased options for expanding fields of membership and a shared service center network that effectively gives credit unions additional “branches.” “Folks think of credit unions as that small office in their plant,” Richard Howdeshell, president of Fort Worth Community CU, told the Star-Telegram. “It’s just not that way anymore.” The article also highlighted expanded product lines offered at credit unions. John Tippets, president of American Airlines FCU, told the publication, “Credit unions have increased their product lines over the past 10 years to offer their customers a broader base of services.” Dick Ensweiler, president of the Texas Credit Union League, attributed credit union growth more to customer-oriented service. “We don’t treat that person walking in the door as a way to extract money or make a profit for shareholders,” Ensweiler said. “It’s a whole different mind-set.” Also quoted in the article was a member of Fort Worth Community Credit Union who was extremely pleased with his credit union after being able to knock 10 basis points off his car loan, earn a percentage point higher on his savings account and get overdraft protection on his son’s account for a fee of $1. A member from American Airlines FCU was quoted as being disenchanted with paying transaction fees on credit union ATMs, assessed after the member moved his checking account to Bank of America. “As a result of being `nickeled and dimed’ by the credit union, I will use them less and less. I no longer think of the `big banks’ as being the bullies, and I celebrate their current consumer-oriented practices.” AAFCU president Tippets responded: “Our savings accounts are paying 2 percent, which is 1-1/2 points above most banks. For people who only save with us, we can’t afford to give them extra savings elsewhere.” – [email protected]

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