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Get Free Checking, Earn Money For Kids

Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union offers free checking and a donation to kids' causes.When we were looking around for good checking account deals leading up to Bank Transfer Day this Saturday, we stumbled upon a unique offer in Florida.

It’s a free checking account, but the credit union offering it isn’t handing out the same kind of financial incentives we’ve seen elsewhere.

Instead of paying you directly for using your debit card, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union will make a donation to aid its children’s foundation.

In the interest of accuracy, Suncoast is offering an incentive to switch; it’s just not cash. If by Saturday you open a free Suncoast Smart Checking account — which charges no monthly service or debit card fees — you can enter to win a free iPad.

The Tampa, Fla.-based credit union (www.suncoastfcu.org) also gives you rewards points for every debit card purchase you make, which you can use for travel or merchandise through a third-party vendor.

On top of that, for every purchase you make with your debit card, the credit union donates 2 cents to the Suncoast for Kids Foundation. The organization says it has donated more than $4.8 million to projects for children.

It’s another example of why you should be checking out local community banks and credit unions so you can weigh all your alternatives that let you escape the fees charged by many of the big banks for checking accounts.

It only takes a $25 deposit to open an account at the credit union, which serves 15 counties in west and central Florida.

Membership is open to a wide range of residents and varies by county.

In some locations, anyone who lives in a particular county is eligible. In others, membership is open to a certain residents, such as public and private school employees, students, employees of participating businesses and people living or working in certain geographic areas of the county.

The credit union has more than 500,000 members and about 50 branches.

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