Free Checking More Prevalent at Credit Unions: Bankrate
Thirty-six of the nation’s 50 largest credit unions, or 72%, offer free checking accounts without a minimum balance requirement, according to Bankrate.com’s annual 2012 Credit Union Checking Survey.
That compares with 45% of banks offering free checking without minimum balance requirements, Bankrate said Monday.
In last year’s survey, 38 of them did, New York-based Bankrate said. This year, another 10% of the credit unions also waive monthly fees for minimum balances of $100 to $750, the survey found. Banks averaged $585 for non-interest accounts and $5,587 for interest-bearing accounts, Bankrate said its latest surveys show.
The survey was conducted July 5-11 and found that 16 of the 50 credit unions pay interest on credit union checking accounts, with an average yield of 0.12% The highest yield was 0.25%, found at the $3.6 billion Wings Financial Credit Union in Apple Valley, Minn., the $24.8 billion State Employees’ Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C., and the $6.1 billion Star One Credit Union in Sunnyvale, Calif.
The highest monthly fee for checking found among those 50 credit unions was $10 a month at the $15.1 billion Pentagon Federal Credit Union in Alexandria, Va., while the $3.1 billion Visions FCU in Endicott, N.Y., had an $8 monthly fee, Bankrate said.
“Overall, 98% of the credit union checking accounts that we surveyed are either free or can become free if the accountholder meets minimum balance, direct deposit and/or e-statement requirements,” said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst. “So credit unions remain a viable, consumer-friendly alternative for finding a free checking account.”
The survey also found:
- The average cost of the first overdraft is $26.65, up from $26.05 last year, compared with $30.83 at banks
- Fifteen of the 50 credit unions have either no ATM fees outside the network or provide at least one free withdrawal per week before the fee kicks in, compared with 29% of banks.
- Forty-eight of credit unions surveyed will charge a non-member for using their ATM. The most common surcharge is $2.00, compared to $3.00 at banks.
The full survey is viewable online.