About to Lose Free Checking? Look Into Credit Unions and Online Banks

As fees rise elsewhere, Unitus Community Credit Union continues to offer 'free'

Mar 15, 2011, 17:16 ET from Unitus Community Credit Union

PORTLAND, Ore., March 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Unitus Community Credit Union (www.unitusccu.com) will continue to offer free checking and free online services such as bill pay even as many other financial institutions announce plans to begin new fees or add requirements in order to maintain free accounts.

"Free checking and free online bill pay are important benefits to our members and we plan to continue both regardless of other changes in the marketplace," said Patricia Smith, Unitus' president and CEO.

Research reported by MyBankTracker shows that 80 percent of consumers would quit using online bill pay if their financial institution began charging a fee, while an article in Credit Union Journal reported that "a majority of consumers will move their checking accounts if their financial institution eliminates free checking."

Unitus and many other Northwest credit unions make a favorable showing when it comes to such requirements as no minimum balance and no direct deposit. Many others, including Unitus, pay interest or offer rewards for some checking accounts.

AARP Bulletin, the nation's largest magazine (January-February 2011), recommends that consumers switch to credit unions or Internet banks. "Free checking, once the standard, is going the way of the VCR. A recent study found that the number of financial institutions offering it is down 11 percent from a year ago," the magazine said.

"But if your bank starts charging, you have other options," the Bulletin reported. "Many credit unions, which are non-profit and organized to benefit members rather than shareholders, still offer free checking," the article continued.

"People may not know that most of them can become members of credit unions if they live or work in any of the counties serviced by the credit union.  Secondly, consumers have access to 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs, 4,300 shared branches across the nation for a wide range of services, as well as 2,200  7-Eleven store credit union kiosks," Smith concluded.

About Unitus Community Credit Union:

Unitus Community Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service, financial institution serving people living or working in these Oregon counties: Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Marion, Polk, Yamhill and Clark County, Wash. Additional information about Unitus is available at www.unitusccu.com or by calling (800) 452-0900.

SOURCE Unitus Community Credit Union