Desert Schools On Course in Free Checking
Notwithstanding the exit by big banks, Arizona's largest credit union, the $2.8 billion Desert Schools Federal of Phoenix, remains in the industry mainstream where it comes to free checking services with 62% of its members in the mix.
That assessment of its competitive stance on relationship pricing comes as media reports this week continued to highlight the departure of Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo from offering free checking services.
Since late last year, the banks have revamped their checking lineup to include new fees, thresholds and various other package hurdles to eliminate the free element. BofA said earlier this week that it was testing new checking products in Arizona, Massachusetts and Georgia with cutback forays underway in New Jersey, too.
"We made some changes last summer in our accounts but our products remain the same," said Brian Gregory, DSFCU assistant vice president, explaining the bank departures represent "a symptom" of an underlying trend by financial institutions to recoup costs.
Pressures to increase fees are particularly strong in Arizona and sand states burdened by depressed economies, he said.
Desert Schools, which has experienced its own loan hits, remains watchful of those trends "and those kinds of influences in a larger movement," Gregory said.