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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Monday, June 16, 2008

Credit unions offer the nearest thing to a free lunch

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It's often been said that there are no free lunches. But Clark thinks that credit unions are darn pretty close. This wonderful option is available to most adults, but only about 1 in 3 actually is a member.

What is a credit union? It's like a bank that you own as a shareholder. There's a nominal fee to become a member and then it's like you go to the mezzanine with a ton of great products at your disposal!

For example, Clark's credit union offers car loans at 3.9% interest to those with good credit. Home equity loans are available at 3.95% for 5 years.

Credit unions may have rip-off charges for overdrafts and the like, but they're usually lower than elsewhere. When it comes to credit cards, most credit unions offer Visa and MasterCard with interest rates that are about 20% lower than the giant monster mega-banks.

The one thing you don't get with credit unions is convenience. They typically don't have as many branches as the giant monster mega-banks.

Yet more and more people are turning their backs on the banks. In fact, banks only control about 12% of our collective wealth. The bulk of it is with stock brokers, mutual fund companies, credit unions, etc. For example, Merrill Lynch offers a cash management account for the wealthy.

Not sure if you're eligible for a credit union? Visit FindaCreditUnion.com to find out.

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