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Credit Union Study Says Switchers Looking For Truly Free Checking

A study commissioned by Bethpage Credit Union reveals that consumers are looking for checking accounts with no hidden fees when choosing where to bank.

In a study designed to determine how last year’s Bank Transfer Day movement and credit union support has impacted the banking market longer term, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, New York state’s largest credit union, today reported results from a Long Island-wide study finding that consumers are increasingly stressing the importance of free checking with no hidden fees as a top attribute when choosing where to bank.

60% of Long Islanders say they would most likely leave their current financial institution if they charged hidden fees and did not offer free checking.

The survey, administered in August, 2012, by CoreBrand, a Manhattan-based brand consultancy, polled 874 Nassau and Suffolk checking account holder residents.

This research comes on the heels of the recently released Bankrate 2012 Checking Survey that found checking account fees are at an all-time high. The Bankrate survey found that the average monthly maintenance fee for a non-interest checking account is now at a record high of $5.48, a 25 percent jump from last year.

“Last year’s Bank Transfer Day movement certainly helped fuel consumers’ demands to expect more from their financial institution. As we see bank fees continue to soar to unprecedented highs, those strong demands will continue and consumers will not only express their discontent, but continue to make changes in where they do their banking,” said Kirk Kordeleski, President and CEO, Bethpage. “Bank Transfer Day helped Bethpage experience record growth as consumers leveraged their voices and chose credit unions for the valuable options they offer.”

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Bethpage has seen significant growth in checking accounts and new members since the Bank Transfer Day movement. For the 11 months following last year’s Bank Transfer Day, Bethpage opened more than 27,500 checking accounts, a 49% increase as compared to the 11 months prior to Bank Transfer Day. Bethpage has also added 35,800 new members in the 11 months since Bank Transfer Day, an increase of 68% compared to the previous 11 months.

Other key findings in Bethpage’s study include:

  • When asked what attributes are important when choosing a bank or credit
    union, 68% of respondents say providing free checking with no hidden requirements is important.
  • When asked to identify what traits they look for when choosing where to bank, 73% say they want to bank at a financial institution that is honest, 72% say trustworthy, and 71% say ethical.
  • Among people actively looking to switch to a different financial institution, 37% would leave their current financial institution for better rates and lower fees.

Bethpage Bonus Checking offers account holders totally free checking including free debit card transactions, no maintenance fees, and no minimum balance fees. It also includes free online banking, mobile banking and telephone banking, plus the ability to earn interest.

In 2003, Bethpage was approved for the largest federal community charter in the U.S. and is now ranked as the 18th largest credit union in the country. Today Bethpage FCU has $4.7 billion in assets, 205,000 members and 26 branches.

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