Credit unions are my preferred option in general. Small banks might be useful as well.
At least at my credit union, there are practically no fees, especially if you have direct deposit. They also refund ATM costs charged by other banks. There is no price for a bank/certified check, and there is a small overdraft fee, among other things.
Because credit unions are frequently small, they may not have all of the procedures in place to protect you and them from fraud and counterfeiting, particularly if they’re a newer financial institution. They aren’t totally to blame. Small banks are also faced with this problem. It’s simply the nature of being new to larger markets and more complex, ever-changing issues.
Credit unions often provide better online and phone customer service than banks, although I have to say that in my experience smaller banks score similarly. Credit unions also provide higher interest rates on deposits and lower lending rates. Banks have a reputation for eagerly adopting new technologies and techniques. Credit unions have massive, cooperative networks of ATMs and joint branches, whereas big banks have vast ATM and branch networks.
Unlike a bank, where anybody can walk in and open an account, a credit union requires members to first pass a credit check. Unlike a bank, a credit union has no motive in enabling people to join who would sign bad checks or give out loans to those who are unlikely to repay them.
The majority of banks see their business as a responsibility to make a profit, everything they do revolves around making money. A lending strategy devised by a New York City bank controlled by a billionaire ends up harming local communities instead of helping them.
Profits from credit unions can be transferred to shareholders in the form of dividends. In my opinion, the success of its loan management staff is built on integrity, ethics, and sound judgment.