Credit Unions Are Still the Best Places to Find Free Checking

New data from Bankrate supports what we’ve known all along: credit unions are still your best option for free checking.

According to Bankrate’s 2017 Credit Union Checking Survey, 84 percent of credit union checking accounts now come with no monthly maintenance fees. That’s a jump from 72 percent two years ago.

As Bankrate’s Robin Saks Frankel writes, “If you are one of the few paying for checking, it’s time to do some serious shopping around.”

This survey also found that what fees do exist on credit union checking accounts can often be avoided.

As Frankel puts it, “The survey found that an overwhelming 98 percent of standalone checking accounts at credit unions are either free or pretty close to it. That means credit union accounts that have fees allow you to avoid those monthly charges if you meet certain criteria, such as having a companion account, signing up for direct deposit or maintaining a certain amount of transaction activity.”

On average, credit unions charge $27.76 for an overdraft, while banks average $35.

And if you think that big banks, with their vast ATM networks, give you better access to charge-free withdrawals nationwide, think again:

“Many credit unions are members of vast national ATM networks, like CO-OP and Allpoint, so it tends to be fairly easy to find a participating machine that won’t make you pay a surcharge,” Frankel said.

Credit union are still more customer-friendly than banks.

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