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Yes Virginia, There Really Is A Melrose Credit Union (And We Went There)

Many of the nation’s biggest banks are based in the glistening skyscrapers of Manhattan.

But to find the little New York credit union that’s offering many of the best CD rates in the country, we had to hop on the E train and venture out to Queens.

There, in the Briarwood neighborhood about 12 miles from Citigroup’s Park Avenue headquarters, we found Melrose Credit Union’s single office.

We’ve written so much about Melrose over the past few months that we felt like we just had to go there to assure ourselves – and you – that it really existed.

We wanted to see what the credit union with the unusual charter that allows anyone in the country to join, regardless of where they live or work, is really like, and find out how it can keep offering such great returns month after month after month.

Melrose holds three of the six spots on our most recent CD Rates Leaderboard. At one point last summer it claimed four of the six, best nationally available CD rates in the country.

What we found was an incredibly diverse, middle-class residential neighborhood that’s about a third white, a third black, and a third Hispanic and Asian.

Queens Boulevard, which forms the western edge of the neighborhood, is lined with small stores, car lots and restaurants, where you can get a 10-minute oil change and a pizza burger. On either side of the tree-lined median, three lanes are available with plenty of street parking.

We couldn’t miss Melrose’s immaculate building at 139-30 Queens – the three-story red-brick structure looks just like the computer rendering on the credit union’s Web site.

It’s a bit of a fortress, but a friendly fortress, sporting a wall of wrought iron and brick all the way around the property and a gate at the entrance, with a clean and spacious parking lot out front and a drive-through teller window around the back of the credit union.

The one-story lobby is open and inviting, allowing natural light to enter the building’s countless windows and shine on the polished floors, with an information desk and just three teller windows.

It’s nothing like the grand banks of Manhattan, with their vaulted stone ceilings, marble floors and so many tellers that electronic arrows are needed to direct you to an open window.

All, in all, it’s a rather unassuming place, sort of like a small town bank that’s been plopped in the middle of this huge city.

Melrose is real and seems well equipped to serve its 20,000 members.

Tomorrow we ask one of its executives how Melrose can offer such great rates.

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