BETHPAGE, N.Y. (11/2/12)--Consumers stressed the importance of free checking with no hidden fees as a top attribute when choosing a financial institution, according to a recently released study from Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU.
In the study, designed to determine how last year's Bank Transfer Day (BTD) movement and credit union support has impacted the banking market longer term, 60% of Long Islanders said they would most likely leave their current financial institution if they charged hidden fees and did not offer free checking.
The survey, administered in August by CoreBrand, a Manhattan-based brand consultancy, polled 874 Nassau and Suffolk checking account holder residents.
The research follows a recently released Bankrate
2012 Checking Survey that indicated checking account fees are at an all-time high. The Bankrate
survey found that the average monthly maintenance fee for a non-interest checking account is now at a record high of $5.48, a 25% jump from last year.
"Last year's BTD movement certainly helped fuel consumers' demands to expect more from their financial institution," said Kirk Kordeleski, Bethpage FCU president/CEO. "As we see bank fees continue to soar to unprecedented highs, those strong demands will continue and consumers will not only express their discontent, but continue to make changes in where they do their banking. BTD helped Bethpage experience record growth as consumers leveraged their voices and chose credit unions for the valuable options they offer."
Bethpage has seen significant growth in checking accounts and new members since BTD, which was Nov. 6, 2011. Bethpage opened more than 27,500 checking accounts, a 49% increase compared with the 11 months prior to BTD. Bethpage has also added 35,800 new members since Bank Transfer Day, an increase of 68% compared to the previous 11 months.
Other key findings in Bethpage's study include:
- When asked what attributes are important when choosing a bank or credit union, 68% of respondents said providing free checking with no hidden requirements is important.
- When asked to identify what traits they look for when choosing where to bank, 73% said they want to bank at a financial institution that is honest, 72% said trustworthy, and 71% said ethical.
- Among people actively looking to switch to a different financial institution, 37% would leave their current financial institution for better rates and lower fees.
Bethpage said its Bonus Checking offers account holders free checking including free debit card transactions, no maintenance fees, and no minimum balance fees. It also includes free online banking, mobile banking and telephone banking, plus the ability to earn interest.