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Help Minnesota Save
Succeeding with Banks and Credit Unions
Keeping a checking and savings account at a financial institution offers you lots of benefits.

Credit Unions are nonprofit and generally have lower costs and pay you higher interest rates on your savings. Some are only open to specific groups, but community credit unions are open to anyone living in the area. All accounts are federally insured.

Banks are corporations that offer a wider range of services at generally higher fees. Checking and savings accounts are insured, but money market accounts or investment services are not.

Check Cashing Services and Finance Companies are corporations that charge very high fees and don’t offer checking or savings accounts. They are non-depository and are not federally insured. They often charge a fee of 2-3% of paychecks and 9-20% of personal checks just to cash them. Finance companies charge very high interest rates for loans, often over 20% APR.

  • Learn how payday loans work.

Benefits of Having a Checking Account at Credit Union or Bank:

  • Convenience (free checking, free ATMs, checks and debit card universally accepted)
  • Safety (no need to carry cash, federally insured, low liability if checks/card stolen)
  • Cost (much lower fees than check cashing services, much cheaper than money orders)
  • Good credit (builds relationship to get car and home loans, seen as sign of responsibility)

Ways to Re-open the Door if an Account Has Been Closed:

  • Pay the balance owed on any account that was closed for being overdrawn.
  • Offer to direct-deposit your paycheck into the account.
  • Ask to open a savings account first to prove when you’re ready for checking.
  • Ask a friend or family member to open a joint checking account with you.
  • If you are denied an account, you are entitled to a free copy of check verification company report. Get one and see if there are any errors on it, and make sure it gets listed as zero balance once all repaid.

Checking Account Verification Reports


Banks and credit unions use information in checking-verification reports to make decisions about opening a checking or savings account. There are several checking-verification services but the largest one is Chex Systems, which uses the SCAN (Shared Check Authorization Network) database of financial institutions and retailers who report about checking. If a bank or credit union denies your application for an account based on your checking-verification report, they must give you the name, address, and phone number of the checking-verification service who prepared the report. You are then entitled to a free copy if you write to them to request it within 60 days of being denied an account.


You may also request this report free once a year under FACTA. Contact Chex Systems online, by calling (800) 428-9623 or by mailing a written request to:Chex Systems, Attn: Consumer Relations 7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100, Woodbury, MN 55125.


  • Choosing a Financial Institution Lesson Plan
  • Comparing a Checking Account Worksheet
  • Locate a Credit Union.
  • Locate a FDIC-Insured Bank.
  • Request your Checking Account Verification Report.

Tip Sheets
More tips on financial institutions.

Last updated 8/8/2011

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