March 19, 2013 – NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker warned anew of bank-fee “Whac-a-Mole” in a recent Bankrate.com article comparing the rise in free checking at credit unions against its decline at banks.
The article, “Want free checking? Check out credit unions,” says survey findings by Bankrate show 72 percent of credit unions’ “checking” accounts are still free. By contrast, just 39 percent of checking accounts in banks are free. While credit unions’ free checking was six points higher two years ago, at banks it was at 65 percent, the article says. It shows credit unions also charge less for other types of maintenance fees and are more lenient when members use ATMs owned by other institutions.
Becker, according to the report, notes that banks’ fees are being driven in part by the decline in debit interchange fees for large institutions.
Another Bankrate.com article on “myths” about credit unions quotes NAFCU in pointing to the spike in credit union membership since 2004 as credit unions have strived to keep fees low. Membership grew from less than 84 million in 2004 to more than 93 million through 2012, NAFCU found.
It quotes Becker also noting credit unions’ upgrades in technology to keep up in the marketplace. “Technology is a leveler,” he was quoted saying. “It lets smaller institutions play with the big guys.” The NAFCU president also said credit unions are also doing whatever they can to keep costs low for their members.