Free checking is what brought in the new members to Bethpage FCU in the second half of 2012, the big New York credit union said.
The $5.4 billion Long Island institution said a survey conducted in February of nearly 400 new members who began banking there in the second half of 2012 found that 84% opened a new free checking account. Eleven percent initially got mortgages.
In 2012, 33,440 new members joined Bethpage, a 26% increase compared to 2011, the credit union said.
The 211,900-member Bethpage said statistics from its semi-annual new member survey also found that 54% said no or low fees is what attracted them to the credit union in the first place, while 47% cited superior rates, 45% cited branch locations, 37% indicated a network of free ATMs and 38% indicating service reputation.
Twenty-eight percent cited member ownership when asked what the main difference was between a bank and a credit union.
Bethpage said its experience is reflected in the Bankrate’s recent 2013 Credit Union Checking Survey which found that 72% of the nation’s largest credit unions now offering free checking without a minimum balance, as compared to only 39% of banks, a 26% reduction since 2010.
“Year after year, free checking is overwhelmingly the most desired product new members request when joining, and better rates and lower fees are the most important benefit,” said Kirk Kordeleski, Bethpage president/CEO.
This tells me that consumers have a growing awareness for the credit union difference – something the banks cannot compete with,” he said.