Jan. 11, 2010


  • I think this article is right on the money. Credit Unions have advantages over banks because of their smaller cost structure. That means less fees for mebers. Community banks may be able to offer more products, because they have access to more capital to invest, typically. But, either option is far better than only banking with a large golbal bank.
  • The article is so on target - the comments below are valid and the response appropriate - it can't be about waiving fees - if that is all it is then no real difference. It is about attitude, which comes from structure - this is your financial institution, working for you - not A bank, working for someone else - and that does matter.
  • Very well written article! Its great to see that more people understand and appreciate the benefit and value of credit unions!
    Chris Lopez
  • Jason, I may not have done enough to clearly explain this in my article but, I believe that credit unions have a lot more to offer than just waiving fees. It just so happens that PNC's refusal to waive my fees is the catalyst that lead me to look for a new financial institution. Once I was in the market for a new PFI, I knew I wanted to save my money with a credit union because, as a collectively-owned not-for-profit financial institution, they are structured in a way that provides me with a sense of trust that banks simply can't provide. I didn't choose Lafayette Federal Credit Union because they offered to let me opt out of overdraft protection (you are right I could do that at any bank), I chose Lafayette Federal Credit Union because it is a credit union.
    Sam Brownell
  • I appreciate the article and it gives us a lot to consider, but I hope that Credit Unions have more to offer than waiving fees for irresponsible behavior. Pretty soon PNC will likely be forced to allow their customers to opt-out of overdraft coverage as well. I do not believe that puts us on even ground.
  • My point is...what if free checking goes away? Then what is the differentiator that will rise to the top of your list?
  • Rosie, free checking could potentially be a deciding factor for me. If one institution offered free checking and the other didn't or required a balance higher than I expected to have, I would most likely choose the institution that offered free checking. I personally care a lot more about free checking than internet banking. Weighing free checking against the trust associated with using a credit union gets more tricky, it would be pretty close. It would probably come down to convenience in a scenario in which a bank offered genuinely free checking and a credit union didn't.
    Sam Brownell
  • I'm interested in the fact that free checking was a "must have" for you. Given the impending loss of interchange and EOD revenues that FIs have historically used to fund loss leaders like free checking accounts, we may be fast on a road back to the day when the available checking product was a maintain-a-minimum-balance-or-pay-a-monthly-service-fee paradigm: take it or leave it.

    What will that do for you?
  • Sam,

    I pretty much agree with all your points. For me, I know that I'd consider switching if I found a CU that had the tech services I currently have. And I closed an account at First Union for pretty much the same reason.

    Now, I have found that CUs and community banks have a lot of similarities. The biggest being that they tend to know their customers and their needs better. I believe that banks lose their way as they become more sales and procedures oriented. Most banks started out with the same focus as CUs, customer focused
    George Pasley
  • Rosie,

    I think if no one offers free checking then it probably wouldn't be replaced by anything on my list of preferences. I would probably just care more about convenience. Although I may start shopping based on the financial institution that requires the lowest minimum balance necessary to receive free checking.
    Sam Brownell