A report from ACTON Market Intelligence suggests that credit should not only maintain their free checking accounts, but market on them early and often.
The firm's report, Free Checking and the Banking Customer, found that 87% of surveyed consumers nationwide have a free checking account and that 85% of them described having a free checking account as “critically important” (46%) or “very important” (39%).
Less than 3% of consumers surveyed said having free checking is “not very” or “not at all” important, the firm found.
The survey found that 67% of consumers would leave their credit union or bank if it started charging a fee for a previously free checking account, 36% said they would leave as soon as possible and 31% they would do so after researching where to go.
But the survey also found consumers are more tolerant of other measures attached to free checking accounts, for example raising minimum balance requirements. According to the report, 56% of consumers surveyed said they would comply with the new balance requirements to keep their accounts free, but 38% said they would leave as soon as possible.
More consumers said they would leave their credit union or bank if it did away with free checking (63%) than if it charged higher minimum balances to avoid fees (57%), charged when transactions fell below a given level (58%), charged for the use of debit card at retail (60%), charged for number of ATM transactions per month (51%), charged for paper transactions (49%) or charged $8.95 for paper statements or teller transactions (55%).