YONKERS, NY. — A survey conducted by the Consumer ReportsNational Research Center, a research arm of the Consumer Reportsmagazine, has found that cardholders surveyed ranked credit unionsas among the best credit card issuers.

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The survey covered 36,298 reader's experiences with 61,944cards. More CR readers who used those banks' cards complained thatthey were assessed unfair late fees or experienced unexpectedinterest-rate increases than readers who held cards from thetop-rated issuers. It found that consumers had far fewer billingheadaches and other problems with the card issuers at the top ofthe ratings, the magazine said.

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The card issuers that scored especially high in the ratings–USAAFederal Savings (an association limited to members of the military,retired military personnel and their families), the Navy FederalCredit Union, and a group of other credit unions–also chargedmedian interest rates between 9 and 11%, compared with the 17%imposed by the two issuers at the bottom of the ratings: DirectMerchants and Providian (now offered by Washington Mutual).

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USAA Federal Savings, which issues American Express andMasterCard-branded cards, earned a reader score of 95 out of apossible 100. That's one of the highest scores it has seen inrecent years, the magazine said.

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Reader scores ranged from USAA's high of 95 points toProvidian's low of 61. A score of 100 means that all respondentswere completely satisfied;

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80 would mean very satisfied, on average; and 60, fairlywell

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satisfied.

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