I take a certain degree of pleasure in whipping out my ATM card. Shiny and gray as a sleek piece of steel, it reads “San Francisco Fire Credit Union” across the front, a fact that occasionally gets me a double take. I look nothing like a fireman. I look nothing like a firewoman. I am neither, however much I enjoy pretending to be.
But I am a member, and a proud one, of the SF Fire Credit Union, a two-branch operation about which I tend to talk a lot. You know how regular banks have a jar of dum-dums at the front desk and you’re lucky if there are any normal flavors left? The SFFCU has a huge bowl of, like, deluxe chocolates. And then a bowl of dog treats right next to it.
Walking into a regular bank sometimes feels like walking into a morgue – there are weird shelves along the walls, no one’s smiling, and things are too clean and also somehow gray at the same time. At the SFFCU, not only are there no weird shelves, but there are firepeople milling around in all their muscular glory, sometimes even in uniform. Plastic fire trucks litter a corner of the main room for the tykes. Pretty cool fire-related art hangs from the walls.
This last point is easily the best of all. You know how regular banks charge you an arm and a leg to use other ATMs? The SFFCU, a nonprofit collectively owned by its members (Me! You!) refunds all ATM fees. Anywhere. All the time. So you can go to Zeitgeist with no cash, get some from their ATM, and then get two beers instead of one, having saved five bucks you wouldn’t have otherwise.
As long as you live or work within the city of San Francisco, you’re golden. There’s no minimum balance requirement to set up an account, no monthly fees, none of that stuff. You go in, you walk out feeling like a fireman, having saved money and your pocket a little heavier with a dog treat or chocolate for later.
San Francisco Fire Credit Union, Main Branch
3201 California St.
San Francisco Fire Credit Union, Stonestown Branch
565 Buckingham Way
Toll Free: 1-888-4499-3473
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Berrien, commissioned artist with work on display at the SFFCU