EW YORK (3/19/13)--Consumers' "best bet" for finding a free checking account is to go to a credit union, CNNMoney said in a Monday article.
"More than two-thirds, or 72%, of the nation's 50 biggest credit unions still offer free checking accounts without minimum balance or direct deposit requirements, compared to only 39% of banks, according to a new survey from Bankrate.com," the article said.
Regulations--such as the 2010 Card Act, which limited fees and interest rates that issuers can charge members/customers--has prompted many banks to add fees to checking accounts in the past few years to find alternative revenue, the article said.
"ATM fees are also higher at banks," the article said. "The average fee for a non-customer to use a credit union's ATM is $2.29, compared to $2.50 at banks. Meanwhile, using an out-of-network ATM costs a credit union customer $1.01 and costs a bank customer $1.57."
The article also noted that overdraft fees average $26.74 at credit unions and $31.26 at banks.
Focusing on the same study, another article, this time in Monday's Bankrate.com article asked: "Will free checking one day join 'Gangnam Style,' planking and other relics in 'I remember the 2010s' list someday? Not if credit unions have anything to do with it."
If members meet certain conditions, 96% of credit union checking accounts are free or can become free, Bankrate.com said.
"Once again, free checking is the rule rather than the exception among the largest credit unions," said Greg McBride, Bankrate's senior financial analyst. "That's in stark contrast to the sharp year-over-year declines that we continue to see in the banking sector."
To read the CNNMoney and Bankrate.com articles, use the links.