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I used Star One Credit Union to get a loan for a car a few years ago. Unlike a commercial bank, Star One was able to focus on offering competitive rates rather than maximizing operating profits. Thus, I was able to get a very good rate on my car loan. The loan officer was a very considerate woman who walked me through the process and terms of the loan. She was very knowledgeable and was able to answer all my questions regarding payment plans, amortization schedules, etc. Overall I recommend credit unions when looking for loans because of the competitive rates they offer.
I have been an account holder with Capital One 360 since 2004, when it was still known as ING Direct. It is a very good and safe online bank that is secure and FDIC insured. The customer interface is easy to use, and transferring money between the online account and my regular bank account is fast (it takes about 2 business days to clear both accounts). While the rate is a bit lower than Ally Bank or Discover Online, the difference between the rates is minimal and not worth the hassle of changing. Most importantly, I like the ease of use and additional services offered by Capital One 360. The CD rates are competitive, and the online checking account is just as good as an account at a brick and mortar bank (you can write e-checks, use a debit card, and have access to the STAR network of ATMs for free). And for all these services and value to the account holder, it is free to use and has no minimal balance requirements (I know for a fact that some banks have account requirements to qualify for the higher interest rate).
I have just recently used Mercury Insurance Group for car insurance after switching because I need to save on premium costs. Mercury Insurance is much cheaper than other carriers, especially if all you need is collision service. However, if you seek comprehensive insurance or uninsured motorist compensation the costs will be significantly higher for your policy. From a dollar perspective it is a good deal. But unlike Allstate or AAA the amenities like roadside assistance or good driver discounts are limited. Also, the claims process is somewhat of a hassle, and can be cumbersome. If you are a safe driver and don't get into accidents this may be fine because all you need is collision. If you want white glove service, though, this may not be for you.
I don't use this checking account because of the interest, and people should not sign up for this because it offers a 0.01% rate (which is pitiful). The benefit of this account is the service you get. You get free checks for life, and the fee itself can be waived if you link the account to a CD, brokerage, or even mortgage account. Also, as an advantage holder you can normally get comp banking services like cashier's checks and signature guarantees, which normally would cost $15-$20. Of course, you can't get these for free all the time but once every 6 months the teller will give them to you for free. I recommend if you can maintain the balances to waive the monthly fee. If you cannot, this account is not for you.
I have been a policyholder with AAA since I turned 16 and got my drivers license. I have never changed carriers since. The rates AAA charges are very fair, though a bit on the high end. However, you get what you pay for, and the service offered is better than the service you get from smaller underwriters (e.g. The General or even Mercury). If you choose to go for the discount policies you can get a high-deductible, collision-only policy for around $600 if you have no points. However, the comprehensive and uninsured motorist riders are reasonably priced and for a no-points driver you can get a moderate-deductible plan for around $900 a year. Furthermore, the roadside service plan ranges in cost from $100 a year to $300 a year, depending on the number of tows/roadside service covered and miles of towing. The $300 policy might be pricey, but a single tow to the mechanic will more than make up for the cost (you will be surprised how much a tow truck costs). Furthermore, the roadside assistance covers changing a flat tire, battery jump (and even, for the cost of the battery, provides a replacement), or fixing a cracked windshield, all of which can easily cost more than $300. Lastly, AAA also underwrites homeowners, renters, personal liability, boat, motorcycle, and ATV insurance. So if you have any of those assets, you can bundle it and save.
I joined Meriwest six years ago because they were offering a 7.5% 1 year CD promotion. While their CD rates are now market rate, the service is remarkably good for a two-branch credit union. The online banking portal is very convenient and I can renew my CDs online instantly or even change the terms within 24 hours. Most importantly, the rates on potential auto and home loans are very competitive, and for the conforming 30-year mortgage the rates are comparable to a larger bank. Furthermore, the points charged are very reasonable (about 0.5 to 1.0 points is what I have been quoted). If you live in the area or are qualified through a family member or job, I would consider joining the credit union. You get all the personal banking services you need (free checks, debit card with access to STAR-affiliated machines for free, online banking, bill pay) and if you need a loan you can get competitive rates.