Best value for checking? CUs are tops, says WalletHub

April 8, 2016

WASHINGTON (4/8/16)--Credit unions again were ranked highly again for their consumer-friendly values, particularly when it comes to checking accounts, noted personal finance website WalletHub.

“Consumers looking for the lowest fees on checking accounts should focus on offers from credit unions, which are 25% cheaper than online checking accounts--the next-best option--on average,” WalletHub said in its latest banking landscape report.

WalletHub analyzed rates, fees and features associated with more than 2,300 checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs from banks and credit unions nationwide.

“The findings are consistent with those reported elsewhere--not just in the transaction account arena but more generally as well,” said Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). “The record is clear: consumers shopping for financial services ought to include credit unions in their shopping plans.”

Credit unions had the highest ranking in WalletHub’s checking account features index, gaining 1.47% in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the fourth quarter of 2015.

“Credit unions are fundamentally different than banks. As not-for-profit financial cooperatives credit unions represent provides a structural difference that has the power to change lives. Unlike banks, credit unions do not have outside shareholders who demand a market rate of return on their investment,” Schenk said.

“Credit unions take the profits that banks would distribute to outside shareholders (in the form of stock dividends) and distribute those profits back to members in the form of lower loan interest rates and--as pointed out in the article--also in the form of fewer and lower fees and higher savings account yields,” he added.

WalletHub’s findings of lower fees across the board--including out-of-network ATM fees that are less than $1--adds strength to CUNA’s assessment of the positive impact of credit unions in the financial services marketplace.

“All told, CUNA estimates that the nation’s 104 million credit union members saved $9.3 billion in 2015 alone compared to what they would have paid for financial services at for-profit banks,” Schenk said.