Oct. 3, 2011 – With Bank of America and other large banks launching new fees in response to a debit interchange fee cap that took effect Saturday, NAFCU is redoubling efforts to inform consumers about the value of credit unions as a safe, convenient, lower-cost place to save and borrow.
Last week, Bank of America said it plans to assess a $5 fee next year on consumers each billing cycle they use their debit cards for purchases. Wells Fargo has already announced it plans a $3 monthly fee for debit cards beginning in mid-October, JP Morgan has been testing them for months, and reports note either new fees or high minimum balances for checking going into effect at institutions such as CitiBank, SunTrust and others.
What this means for consumers, NAFCU points out, is that credit unions offer more value than ever before.
“While many banks are raising fees, credit unions – non-profit, member-owned financial institutions – continue to hold the line on costs,” NAFCU said in a statement released to news outlets Friday.
The association is working to spread the word about the advantages of credit union membership, among them:
- No- or low-fee checking accounts – Credit unions offer a wide range of products, including savings/checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, auto and mortgage loans as well as the flexibility to do online banking.
- Convenience – Many credit unions participate in a shared branching network that gives members access to credit union locations in all 50 states. Credit unions also offer access to thousands of free ATMs nationwide, including at key 7-Eleven locations nationally.
- Low minimum balances – At some credit unions, an account can be opened for as little as $5.
- Lower interest rates on credit cards and loans – Federal credit unions cannot exceed 18 percent on credit card or loan rates, and most average much lower.
- Safe and sound – Deposits in the nation’s federal credit unions are federally insured through the National Credit Union Administration and are protected to the same extent bank deposits are protected the FDIC. No credit union member has ever lost a penny of federally insured funds.
More about credit union ATMs and credit union membership eligibility requirements can be found at CULookup.com. For comparisons of credit union and bank rates, go to CULookup.com/CompareCURates.
(NAFCU member credit unions, if you’re seeing a spike in interest from consumers due to the new bank fees, we want to know; please e-mail us.)