Credit union memberships continues to grow

Credit union memberships continues to grow

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By Brenda Buttner, FOX News

If you're looking for a free checking account, chances are you're probably not going to find it at your local bank.

The percentage of banks offering free, no-strings-attached checking accounts has dropped 26 percent since 2010.

That's according to a Bankrate survey of the top 50 credit unions in the nation.

"While we've seen stand alone checking account decline at banks, what we have seen is more than 90 percent of the accounts can get the fee waived with something like direct deposit, online statements or just  based on other balances that you have," said Bankrate.com senior financial analyst Greg McBride.

72 percent of credit unions offer free checking accounts.  That's down just six percentage points since 2010.  While only 39 percent of banks offer free checking.

Some perks of using a credit union:

  • 74 percent have no minimum balance requirements
  • Less than five percent have fees or debit cards and transactions
  • And 30 percent don't charge to use other banks' ATMs

Credit unions are expanding their ATM access too by offering access to a broad ATM network shared with other credit unions.

"A lot of them belong to much larger ATM networks so they can literally open up thousands of ATMs that their members can use around the country," said McBride.

The National Association of Federal Credit Unions says consumers are catching on to the credit union craze.  With membership growing from less than 84 million members in 2004 to more than 93 million members in 2012.

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