Great question! I had the same predicament. Here is what you can do to join one of the largest credit unions in the US. They have ATMs in almost every 7/11 in the area and in the Lincoln Lanes bowling alley ;)
Alliant Credit Union will allow you to join if you are a member of "Foster Care to Success". You can become a member in seconds, just donate $10 to them and you are in. Then you can open your Alliant account in a matter of minutes online.
I joined Credit Union 1 two years ago after seeing their ad on the back of a bus. www.creditunion1.org. Anyone can join. The closest branch is on Fullerton near Rockwell. If you shop at the Target on Elston, it's just a few blocks from there. That branch has an individual name, Caballeros de San Juan (?). They speak English.
I've also been looking for a good local credit union - Alliant seems to be the one for me... if any current members could take a moment to recommend me using the link that Dhruv P provided above - I'd TRULY appreciate it...
Hi, everyone! I've done more research on Alliant, and am feeling pretty confident that I'll switch to them. Something amazing I discovered, is that you can become eligible for membership, but essentially making a donation of $10+ to Foster Care to Success.
Awesome Claire! One thing I like about Alliant (and probably any smaller banks), is that you get a person who can actually help you and are nice enough to have a conversation. Better than pressing buttons in vain hopes to get a live person.
Also, as Tom discovered (sorry!), members of Alliant can't just invite anyone over unless they also meet Alliant's requirements.
I don't understand bofa's strategy... they had such a negative impression with customers (before they introduced the $5 fee), that by introducing (and being the leader of this "movement") debit card fees, it created a bigger and more negative image then if they just laid low and charged $2-3 fee (which would match Wells Fargo and maybe Chase if they went with it).
BofA is probably like Netflix (in terms of using data driven decisions at expense of common sense). Some analysts probably crunched some numbers, assumed no backlash, and thought they could reap some lost revenue after introduction of the dubin regulations.
Written Check Preauthorized Withdrawals from Checking Debit Card Transactions
The way this reads to me is that Alliant members are charged a "courtesy pay fee" of $25 each time ("per occurrence") they make any of the three transactions listed above. Am I completely misinterpreting this? I hope I am because, if not, it seems absolutely insane to charge $25 per occurrence for the above transactions. Thoughts?
Claire - the way I understand it is this is their equivalent of an overdraft fee - their system is called "Courtesy Pay"
Alternatively you can enroll in their overdraft protection program where they transfer money out of your savings acct to cover any overdrafts and only charge you a nominal fee of $3 for each day you need to use that service...
Any other members can correct me if I'm wrong, and I'm sure a quick call to the credit union could clarify things even further...
Courtesy Pay is the agreement that they will cover your overdrafts and charge you a very high fee to do so. If you do not enroll in Courtesy Pay, your card will be declined. Remember the whole bank fee fiasco? It is now illegal to charge such high overdraft fees, so the banks (and alliant) got around it by asking you to enroll in a special "service" where you voluntarily agree to have them charge you high overdraft fees. Chase was preying on their customers to get them to enroll in this "service" so they could continue to charge those now illegal fees. Like Tom G says, the best thing to do is to back up your checking account with a savings account instead.
Thanks so much for your explanations. This definitely makes sense now. Furthermore, it seems totally reasonable. Ultimately, I do plan on calling or going in-person before I officially switch, but I just want to make sure I understand as much as I can on my own first and can be organized with the questions I end up asking Alliant directly. November 5th is right around the corner!