LOS ANGELES (5/5/09)--Nonprofit cooperatives such as credit unions are the most misunderstood bargain in banking, according to a Los Angeles Times article. Although credit unions offer higher rates for deposits, lower costs for loans and reduced fees for overdrafts and checking accounts, many consumers are confused about how to go about banking with one, the article said (May 3). “Many consumers have an old-school notion that credit unions are always exclusive clubs, only open to employees of a single company, members of a particular church, union or profession. But with many credit unions that’s no longer the case,” the article continued. To help consumers find a credit union, the article cited the locator tool on the Credit Union National Association's consumer web page, www.creditunion.coop, as a resource. The article’s author, Kathy Kristof, said she conducted a search of credit unions in 10 minutes and found five that could have accepted her, based on geography alone. Working as a teacher, engineer, broadcaster or public worker could yield access to a dozen credit unions or more, Kristof said. Kristof also noted that deposit rates are 25% better at credit unions than at banks and six of the top 10 earning checking accounts offered through www.checkingfinder.com were credit union accounts.