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Bankrate: CUs Dwarf Banks for Free Checking
Wednesday, March 9, 2016 6:40 AM

Credit unions are more than twice as likely as banks to offer free checking accounts to new members, according to a new Bankrate.com report.

Bankrate surveyed the nation's 50 largest credit unions and found that 76 percent of their checking accounts are free, meaning no service fees or per-transaction charges regardless of balance or activity. Only 37 percent of banks can make the same claim.

In 2010, 78 percent of credit unions and 65 percent of banks offered free checking accounts to everyone.

"At a time when free checking has become increasingly rare at large banks, it is still very prevalent among credit unions," said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com's chief financial analyst.

Credit unions' ATM fees are also friendlier; 34 percent have no fee for going outside the network, or allow at least one free out-of-network withdrawal per week.

None of the credit unions that Bankrate surveyed requires more than $100 to open an account, and 66 percent have no minimum.