MADISON, Wis. (3/2/11)--The best way for a consumer to obtain a free checking account is to join a credit union, according to a Monday article titled “Best Way to Get Free Checking,” by Farnoosh Torabi posted on CBS MoneyWatch. About 96% of 50 major credit unions offered free checking, found the Bankrate.com 2011 Credit Union Checking Study, CBS said. About 81.5% of U.S. banking customers had free checking in 2009, and that number dropped to 72.5% in 2010, according to Moebs Services. Although credit unions haven’t been completely unaffected by the financial crisis, and have raised some fees, many of those increases are less than what large banks have recently levied on customers, the Bankrate study found. “I think parking some savings at a credit union, as either your sole banking destination or part of your overall banking ‘portfolio,’ is a fine way to bank smart,” Torabi wrote. “The Credit Union National Association boasts that practically everyone is eligible to be a member at [a] credit union based on where you live, the company your work for, the school you attend or organizations you’re a part of.” Torabi added that she’s been a member of Digital FCU in Shrewsbury, Mass., since she was a teenager and even though she no longer lives there, she still keeps an active account at Digital. To read the article, use the link.