NEW YORK, Aug. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Seventy-two percent of America's 50 largest credit unions offer free checking accounts without a minimum balance requirement, down slightly from 76% last year, according to Bankrate.com's (NYSE: RATE) 2012 Credit Union Checking Survey, which was released today. An additional 10% of these credit unions will waive monthly fees if accountholders maintain a minimum balance ranging from $100 to $750. Only 45% of banks offer free checking without minimum balance requirements, according to Bankrate.com's latest research, and banks' minimum balance requirements tend to be much higher ($585 for noninterest-bearing accounts and a staggering $5,587 for interest checking accounts).
"Overall, 98% of the credit union checking accounts that we surveyed are either free or can become free if the accountholder meets minimum balance, direct deposit and/or e-statement requirements," said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com's senior financial analyst. "So credit unions remain a viable, consumer-friendly alternative for finding a free checking account."
The majority of the credit union checking accounts that Bankrate surveyed (68%) do not pay interest. Those that do yield an average of 0.12%, down from 0.17% last year, which is consistent with the ongoing declines seen in cash investments.
Even at credit unions, overdrafts will cost you. The average cost of the first overdraft is $26.65, up from $26.05 last year, compared to $30.83 at banks. The most common fees assessed are $25.00 and $30.00, compared to the most common fee of $35.00 at banks.
Thirty percent of the credit unions that Bankrate surveyed have either no ATM fees outside the network or provide at least one free withdrawal per week before the fee kicks in, comparable to 29% of banks.
Ninety-six percent of credit unions surveyed will charge a non-member for using their ATM. The average ATM surcharge is $2.08, almost identical to $2.10 last year, versus $2.40 at bank-owned ATMs. The most common surcharge is $2.00, compared to $3.00 at banks.
Bankrate.com surveyed the 50 largest credit unions in the United States from July 5-11, 2012.
About Bankrate, Inc.
Bankrate is a leading publisher, aggregator, and distributor of personal finance content on the Internet. Bankrate provides consumers with proprietary, fully researched, comprehensive, independent and objective personal finance editorial content across multiple vertical categories including mortgages, deposits, insurance, credit cards, and other categories, such as retirement, automobile loans, and taxes. The Bankrate network includes Bankrate.com, our flagship website, and other owned and operated personal finance websites, including CreditCards.com, Interest.com, Bankaholic.com, Mortgage-calc.com, CreditCardGuide.com, Nationwide Card Services, InsuranceQuotes.com, CarInsuranceQuotes.com, InsureMe, Bankrate.com.cn, CreditCards.ca, NetQuote.com, and CD.com. Bankrate aggregates rate information from over 4,800 institutions on more than 300 financial products. With coverage of nearly 600 local markets in all 50 U.S. states, Bankrate generates over 172,000 distinct rate tables capturing on average over three million pieces of information daily. Bankrate develops and provides web services to over 80 co-branded websites with online partners, including some of the most trusted and frequently visited personal finance sites on the Internet such as Yahoo!, AOL, CNBC, and Bloomberg. In addition, Bankrate licenses editorial content to over 500 newspapers on a daily basis including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.