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Media Banks fee tactics contrast with CUs free checking
MADISON, Wis. (3/8/11)--Several media outlets recently contrasted credit unions’ free checking with banks’ fee tactics. A Monday article titled “Banks look to Replace Lost Debit-Card Fees” in The Wall Street Journal mentioned that while big banks look for ways to make up lost money caused by new rules that limit how much merchants can charge customers for debit-card transactions, credit unions still are offering free checking to members. Large financial institutions--such as Bank of America (BofA), JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo--are overhauling debit card programs by eliminating rewards and adding new fees to checking accounts, the Journal said. The article described how Shilpa Banerji, a consultant in Washington, D.C., switched to a credit union last year when BofA began charging her a checking account fee. She said she usually uses her debit card for purchases under $30, and the specter of more disruptions upsets her. In other media accounts:
* Of the 50 largest U.S. credit unions, 38 “still offer free checking accounts with no strings attached,” said The Associated Press (Feb 25). The article added: “Even among the credit unions where customers have to pay for checking, nearly all offer ways to avoid fees by meeting certain conditions. For example, consumers can maintain a minimum balance, set up direct deposit or sign up for electronic statements. The survey also found that nearly half the credit unions do not require a minimum balance to open an account. Fees also rose modestly from last year; bounced check fees are up by about a dollar to $26. ATM fees rose slightly to $2.10, from $2.” * BethPage (N.Y.) CU introduced its new free checking account by “saying no to checking fees from big banks,” according to Creditunionsonline.com (March 7). The demand for a free checking product is high on Long Island, and consumers want to save money wherever they can and are not used to paying for what previously was a free checking account, Gerard Schmitt, BethPage vice president of marketing, told the publication.
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