Credit Unions Keep Free Checking Alive

NEW YORK  (Profitable.com)  It may seem like free checking is nearing extinction. However, Bankrate’s 2nd annual Credit Union Checking Study reveals that free checking accounts are alive and well at many of the nation’s top credit unions. The study, released this morning, takes a look at fees, account balance minimums and the cost of ATM usage at the 50 largest credit unions in the country. The results of the study can be found here: http://bankrate.com/finance/checking/credit-unions-free-checking-champions-1.aspx.

Among the findings:

  • Of the 50 largest credit unions in the country, free checking accounts were available at 38 of them;
  • An additional 20 percent of credit unions will waive fees, typically with direct deposit and/or e-statements;
  • Similar to the trends seen among national banks over the past year, credit unions have had a slight decline in free checking accounts (from 78 percent to 76 percent) and an increase in average fees for bounced checks (from $24.88 to $26.05) and ATM surcharges (from $2 to $2.10);
  • Nearly half of the credit unions surveyed, 23 out of 50, do not require a minimum opening balance on their free checking accounts.

“Bankrate.com found that 96 percent of the nation’s largest credit unions offer a checking account that is free, or can become free with minimal effort,” said Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com. “Even with continued declines in the prevalence of free checking, it remains within the grasp of most Americans and credit unions are a viable option.”

About Bankrate, Inc.

The Bankrate network of companies includes Bankrate.com, Interest.com, Mortgage-calc.com, Nationwide Card Services, Fee Disclosure, InsureMe, CreditCardGuide.com and Bankaholic. Each of these businesses helps consumers to make informed decisions about their personal finance matters. The company’s flagship brand, Bankrate.com is a destination site of personal finance channels, including banking, investing, taxes, debt management and college finance. Bankrate.com is the leading aggregator of rates and other information on more than 300 financial products, including mortgages, credit cards, new and used auto loans, money market accounts and CDs, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. Bankrate.com reviews more than 4,800 financial institutions in 575 markets in 50 states. In 2008, Bankrate.com had nearly 72 million unique visitors. Bankrate.com provides financial applications and information to a network of more than 75 partners, including Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), America Online (NYSE: AOL), The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times (NYSE: NYT). Bankrate.com’s information is also distributed through more than 500 newspapers. Bankrate, Inc. was acquired by Apax Partners, one of the world’s leading private equity investment group, in September 2009. Apax operates across the United States, Europe and Asia and has more than 30 years of investing experience. For more information on Apax, visit: www.Apax.com.