CU Checking Is Largely Fee-Free

CUs are far more likely than banks to offer free checking.

December 31, 2010

Credit unions are far more likely than banks to offer free checking. And when credit unions do charge a monthly maintenance fee, it’s about half of what banks charge, according to CUNA’s 2010-2011 Credit Union Fees Survey Report.

Roughly 80% of credit unions offering checking accounts provide at least one option with no minimum balance requirement and no maintenance or activity fees, compared to only 64% of banks.

Noninterest-bearing accounts are more prevalent than interest-bearing accounts—73% vs. 60%.

The prevalence of interest-bearing checking generally increases with asset size. Eighty-five percent of credit unions with $200 million or more in assets offer interest-bearing accounts.

Half of credit unions offering noninterest-bearing accounts provide them free of charge. Likewise, among those offering interest-bearing accounts, 31% do so at no cost.

Other findings:

  • About one-third (37%) of credit unions that offer noninterest-bearing checking accounts require a minimum balance. The median minimum balance to open the account is $25.
  • Overall, 17% of credit unions charge monthly maintenance fees on noninterest-bearing checking accounts. While 6% do so regardless of the account balance, 11% charge a monthly maintenance fee only if the account falls below a minimum balance.
  • Among credit unions in which the monthly maintenance fee is avoidable, the most common minimum balance amount is $100.
  • The median minimum balance to open interest-bearing checking accounts is $50.
  • About 40% of credit unions charge monthly maintenance fees on their interest-bearing checking accounts. Just 6% charge a monthly fee regardless of the account balance; 36% charge only when the balance falls below a minimum requirement.
  • Credit unions hold a clear advantage over banks when it comes to interest-bearing checking. Virtually all banks (96%) charge a monthly fee for these accounts.
  • Half of credit unions offer business checking, 40% of which require a minimum balance to open the account. The median minimum balance is $50.

Get more information here.