Kristin Arnold: In a time of rising fees and fewer free checking accounts, consumers are increasingly looking to credit unions as an alternative.
Bankrate.com is out with their annual credit union checking account survey ... and here with some of the results is Senior Financial Analyst, Greg McBride. ..thanks for joining us.
[Cut to a double screen of Kristin Arnold and Greg McBride]
Kristin: Greg, one of the biggest topics going into 2011 is the decline of free checking ... what did Bankrate find with regard to credit unions and free checking?
Greg: Good news, free checking remains alive and well at credit unions. As of January 2011, 76% of large credit unions that we surveyed offer a checking account that's free on a stand-alone basis…and that's down just a tad from 78% a year ago.
Kristin: Ok, and of those that aren't free, what should consumers know?
Greg: More good news. In addition to those 76% that are free, an additional 20% of accounts can become free, something like direct deposit…online statements or both. So, you put those two numbers together and you get 96% of large credit unions that offer a checking account that's either free or can become free with minimal effort.
Kristin: Any similar trends between credit unions and banks?
Greg: Banks and credit unions are confronting some similar regulatory obstacles, so in addition to the decline in free checking relative to a year ago, where also seeing some of the familiar stand by's overdraft fees and ATM surcharges both making their way higher at both banks and credit unions.
[cut to one shot of Kristin on camera]
Kristin: Ok, thanks Greg ... and if you would like more information about the annual credit checking account survey ... just log onto Bankrate.com. I'm Kristin Arnold.