Which is the best CU in the Bay Area? Depends on where you live or work and what you need it for.
I like Cal State 9 for those here in Berkeley/Oakland. No over draft fees, free checks, free checking account, decent savings rate, excellent loan rates, a few branches, and just good people working there.
Why a credit union and what the hell are they if not just some little screwy bank with fewer branches?
CU's are owned by the customers, your money like you "shares" in the business. CU's are nonprofit orgs so they basically focus on giving good service (which is why you see fewer and lower fees and lower loan rates).
This puts banks, which have to pay profits to stockholders, at a disadvantage. Instead of paying stockholders, credit unions return earnings to their members in the form of dividends or improved services. Lower overhead means lower rates.Usually, to join you need to be in a certain county or work group (like federal employees, firemen/police, etc). This is the main limit imposed on them by law, keeps them small which is good and bad, but mostly good.
CU's are insured like most banks that are "FDIC" insures, it's just called something else: NUCA insured.
http://www.creditunion.coop/ratedex.php for a a comparison of most big banks' rates to most CU's rates. Basically CU's win
Bay Area CUs:
- Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union
- Cal State 9
- People's Community Partnership Federal Credit Union
- Provident Credit Union
- The Golden 1
- Redwood CU
- Meriwest CU
- Mechanics Bank (not a CU, but good)
- Or find a credit union near you
- Or a list of all California Credit Unions