CUs Offer Free Checking and Fewer, Lower Fees
This could create opportunities for credit unions to bolster their membership through free checking and fewer or lower fees. The survey found that only 45% of non-interest checking accounts now are free -- down from the zenith of 76% two years ago.
In this year's study, records were set in two categories. For the 13th consecutive year, fees for non-sufficient funds -- or overdrafts -- reached a new high at the nation's largest banks. Also, ATM fees climbed to their highest level for the seventh consecutive year.
"Those that have the biggest market presence have the most market power, so they don't tend to have the most competitive terms, particularly now that they're abandoning the free checking bandwagon," said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate. "If you're looking for a free checking account, community banks, credit unions and online banks are the territory where you need to be."
To obtain its data, Bankrate.com surveyed the five biggest U.S. banks and five largest thrifts in the 25 largest markets during the period of Aug 1-12. It considered one interest and one non-interest account at 247 institutions offering checking accounts.
The survey is one of several that recently have indicated large banks are eliminating free checking since the Federal Reserve announced its rules capping interchange fees
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