www.CUNA.org/newsnow (5/18/10) While analysts are speculating that free checking accounts may disappear altogether from many national banks, a study by Bankrate Inc. indicates that free checking is alive and well -- at many of the nation's credit unions.
"With free checking accounts becoming less prevalent in national banks, credit unions can be an invaluable resource for the average consumer," said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com.
Bankrate's first annual 2010 Credit Union Study also looked at fees, account balance minimums and the cost of using an ATM at the 50 largest credit unions in the nation (PRNewswire May 17).
Among the findings:
- Of the 50 largest credit unions in the U.S., 39 offered free checking accounts;
- Forty-one credit unions studied have no balance requirement or monthly fee on their checking accounts;
- Among the nine credit unions that charge a monthly service fee, the highest fee was $10 and the lowest was $1;
- Nearly all (47) of the credit unions allow unlimited monthly transactions;
- More than half -- 27 -- do not require a minimum opening balance on their free checking accounts;
- Of those requiring a minimum balance for free checking, the average minimum opening balance required for a non-interest account is $16; and
- Nineteen of the credit unions surveyed have interest-bearing checking accounts.
"Credit unions offer many of the same services as most large banks. They just happen to be not-for-profit organizations that are owned by and in operation for the benefit of their members," McBride said.