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Fred R. Becker, Jr.

Fred R. Becker, Jr.

Posted: April 1, 2010 11:03 AM

Financial Literacy Is No Joke

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Today is both the beginning of Financial Literacy Month and April Fool's Day. Coincidentally, I thought it was the perfect time to help folks get smart about their financial choices and revisit the Move Your Money campaign. When it was launched, it ignited a firestorm among many who sought better service, products and rates from local financial institutions like credit unions.

It is with good reason that credit unions remain an oasis for many in our challenging economic times. Earlier this year, Forrester Research released the findings of its seventh annual customer advocacy rankings, which placed credit unions at the top tier of rated firms. Forrester's yardstick for customer advocacy - the perception by customers that a firm does what's best for them, not just what's best for its own bottom line - mirrors the core principles of credit unions, which are member-owned, not-for-profit financial institutions. The survey also found that the largest U.S. banks dominate the bottom of the rankings.

Recently, with the implementation of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the Credit CARD Act), people had high expectations about its impact. While it addressed numerous unfair practices, many consumers were surprised to see that it did not stop their interest rates from bank-issued credit cards from skyrocketing. Fortunately, there is a great alternative. Consumer Reports recently found that credit unions offer good credit card rates. Specifically, at a federal credit union, credit card and loan interest rates are capped at 18 percent and most average much lower.

In fact, you can go to www.CULookup.com, a one-stop personal finance site where consumers can compare the rates between credit unions and banks, identify credit unions they may be eligible to join and access 30 personal finance calculators. The calculators offer financial guidance in five broad categories: home/mortgage, savings, credit, retirement and auto.

Deposits in federally insured credit unions are protected up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration, backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

So don't let the joke be on you. Be smart about your money and check out credit unions today for great service and rates.