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Bankrate: CUs Still Market Leaders in Free Checking
Thursday, March 16, 2017 6:40 AM

A new study shows that 84 percent of the largest credit unions in the U.S. offer standalone free checking accounts to their members, an increase from 76 percent last year. Credit unions offer free checking at twice the rates as the nation’s largest banks (38 percent), according to the study by Bankrate.com.

“Don’t discount credit unions in your search for a good checking account,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com chief financial analyst. “Credit unions have made great strides in offering broader ATM access and more free accounts to their members.”

Bankrate.com surveyed checking accounts and their associated debit card and ATM fees at the 50 largest credit unions by deposits (shares) between Jan. 17 and 25.

Most of the credit unions that offer checking accounts that aren’t outright free offer waivers to avoid the fee. Altogether, 98 percent of the accounts surveyed are either free or can become free with direct deposit, a certain amount of transaction activity, or other account relationships at the credit union.

About 68 percent of the accounts surveyed have no minimum opening deposit, and no account requires more than $50 to open. The average minimum required to open an account dipped to a new low of $8.18 (down from $10.26 last year).