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You wrote, I admit I am biased against big banks (as a customer).

I can certainly understand that for deposit accounts. But big banks usually offer the best deals on credit cards.

Also, 2.) I then got a Visa card from my local credit union. Here in USA there are a few establishments that will not take American Express, but will take Visa and Master Card. And there is no annual fee for that Visa card. I do not like Visa because they charge very high fees and instant interest on some transactions*.

* As an example, if I want to send money by Western Union, they add a $25 fee to the amount in addition to Western Union's already high fees, and they start charging interest immediately, not just starting at the beginning of the next billing period.

I recently needed to send some money an old school chum that was in a financial bind. I investigated Western Union to see if it was as bad as I remembered. The fees were outrageous. And the time lag was horrible, unless I was willing to pay something like a $60 wire fee. I don't know why anyone would use them.

I opted to have Amazon send a Visa Gift card instead. I think there was a $6 activation fee for the card, but as an Amazon Prime member they sent it second day free of charge. I followed that up by having him open a cash management account online at Fidelity (free to open, no minimums, pays interest). Of course he had to wait to have a debit/ATM card mailed to him to access that cash. But he received the gift card quickly to cover basic expenses. And now if what I sent him wasn't enough I can get him cash the same day he asks for it.

All in I was out $6 plus what I gave him.

And no, I wouldn't do that for most of my school friends; but he and I were best buds for quite a while and we've kept in touch...

- Joel
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