Get Better Rates, Pay Fewer Fees at Your Credit Union

The most current Credit Union National Association (CUNA) fees survey confirms that credit unions offer more favorable terms than banks for debit and ATM (automated teller machine) card transactions:

*Credit unions are somewhat less likely than banks to charge a per-transaction fee for PIN-based (personal identification number) debit transactions at the point-of-sale, and many credit unions allow a number of free transactions before charging this fee.

*Credit unions are less likely than banks to charge members for using nonowned ATMs, and the average per-transaction fee is lower for credit unions than banks.

*Credit unions are less likely than banks to surcharge nonmembers for using their ATMs, and the average surcharge is 20 cents lower. Many credit unions belong to a surcharge-free ATM network.

How can credit unions afford to do this? Bill Hampel, CUNA's chief economist, sums it up this way: "Credit unions are a better choice because they're true cooperatives, owned by members. They exist to please members, not some outside entity, as banks do. A significant ‘expense' that banks have--and credit unions do not--is to keep stockholders satisfied. This frees credit unions to offer members more attractive terms in the form of lower loan rates, higher interest or dividends on savings, and fewer and lower fees."