A recent Wall Street Journal article suggests that as the big banks get bigger, the best deals for savers might be found at the smaller banks. For example, the average yield for a six month CD is just 2.09 percent but if you are willing to shop around and consider out-of-state and internet banks, you can quite easily find rates that approach and possibly exceed 4 percent.
What many people are doing is keeping a small checking account at the large institutions so they can have easy access to a branch office and large ATM network but they also have accounts in far-flung locations to capture more favorable CD and money market rates.
Credit unions are also becoming more and more popular and they often offer the best rates on CDs and consumer loans. Like regular bank accounts, deposits at credit unions are insured for up to $100,000. Many people don't even consider credit unions because they think the membership criteria is very narrow and they incorrectly believe they won't qualify. Years and years ago, it might have been somewhat difficult to join credit unions, but these days, the membership base for most credit unions is very broad. You might be surprised to find that you are probably eligible to join at least one or two credit unions based simply on where you live or where you work.
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