Note: Oops. I accidentally had comments closed on this post. Not even sure how that happened. They’re on now.

Chris M. sent me e-mail last week to share some thoughts on rewards checking and on credit unions. I’m a fan of both. In his message, Chris offered a handy tip for those of us who use credit unions instead of banks:

In reviewing your past posts, I realized that you might not know about something I use to get around going out of your way to the credit union all the time. I always work during banking hours, so I make all my deposits via ATM. I use a CU Service Center. The one I use has only two-day hold on deposits, like the credit union. Other credit unions may have five-day hold, which is not so nice. Here’s where I found my credit union service center.

Credit unions are a fantastic option for many people. They’re member-owned not-for-profit financial institutions that usually have strong ties to a local community. They tend to cooperate with each other instead of compete.

Despite the great rates and excellent service, credit unions do have drawbacks. Huge national banks provide hundreds (or thousands) of branches around the country, and there are often dozens within a single city. It’s easy to find help when you need it.

However, credit unions tend to be local. You’re not likely to find offices all over your city. I chose my credit union because it has two branches near my home, a branch near the family business, and two additional branches nearby. But if I’m on the other side of Portland and need to do some banking, there’s no office available.

Fortunately, most credit unions in the United States offer shared branching. It’s as if they’re all a member of one enormous banking network. The website Chris M. sent me last week offers a list of shared credit union service centers, making it easy to find a nearby credit union, even when you’re on the road.

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