Credit unions are dropping free checking too — but millennials don’t care

Still store your money in a national bank? Here are five reasons that will change your mind.

by: Jess Miller

More people than ever — over 100 million — are now banking with credit unions, even though it’s increasingly costing them money.

A recent Bankrate survey found the number of credit unions with free checking accounts dropped from 78 percent five years ago to 72 percent today. But free checking is still much more likely there than at banks, where only 38 percent offer it.

“Credit unions have maintained free checking much better than banks,” says Dan Berger, president of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. Five years ago, 68 percent of banks offered free checking accounts.

“That 72 percent for credit unions has been steady for the last few years and likely will remain so,” Berger says. “For the few that have made the business decision to slightly increase checking account cost, the nonstop regulations that continue to be promulgated are putting stress on credit unions, especially smaller ones.”

Berger argues that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau oversight has strained credit unions, which now have to find more creative ways to keep costs low. But that hasn’t discouraged more than 8 million consumers who have joined a credit union since 2009, and one group in particular: millennials.

continue reading »