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Free Checking at Credit Unions – NerdWallet’s New Year Picks

by on January 14, 2013

Every New Year, people come up with resolutions to try and change their lives for the better. For some, that means cutting sweets out of their diet, for others, a change in attitude. But for those consumers who are upset by the way their bank treats them, that resolution could be to join a credit union. Given the recent decline of the big banks’ empire and parallel rise of credit unions, more and more consumers are re-evaluating their personal banking choices and switching to a credit union.

Credit unions: member owned, member focused

Credit unions have a greater responsibility to see their members profit, because every member is a shareholder. When the shareholders are profiting, the credit union is profiting. Credit unions offer a greater potential return on investments for consumers with smaller budgets, and offer a more personal and community-oriented approach to personal finance.

How about free checking?

Many credit unions offer totally free checking accounts, too. Truly free checking means no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements, period. If that sounds good, here are some great free checking opportunities at credit unions near you.

Utilities Employees Credit Union (Wyomissing, PA) – EasyCheck Checking

Utilities Employees Credit Union ( offers a simple free checking account with unlimited check writing, a free Advantages VISA® Check Card™ with reward points, up to $8 a month in out-of-network ATM fee rebates, free home banking, free bill pay, and a great interest rate reduction on all new term loans. If you’re a student (ages 13-25), be sure to check out the Connections™ Checking Account, a free account that offers many of the same benefits plus interest on your balance. Membership is open to energy and utility company employees and their families.

Kemba Delta Federal Credit Union (Memphis, TN) – Share Drafts Checking

Kemba Delta Federal Credit Union’s Share Drafts account is better than free; it automatically earns interest, too. Dividends are paid quarterly and automatically added to the account balance. You can also save automatically through payroll deduction by linking this account to your regular Share Account. This account earns interest if your balance is $500 or more. Kemba Delta Federal Credit Union membership is open to Kroger employees, as well as businesses and associations in the Memphis area, and family of eligible members.

Coosa Pines Federal Credit Union (Childersburg, AL) – Share Draft Checking

Coosa Pines Federal Credit Union’s Share Draft Checking account has no monthly service fees, no per-item fees, and no minimum balance requirement. Coosa Pines also offers a variety of overdraft protection options, with a low transfer fee of $3 if you move funds from your Share Savings account. Share Draft accounts also have access to free ATMs around the world in the CIRRUS, EXCHANGE and CU24 networks. The account also earns interest, and you can register your VISA debit card to earn UChoose reward points, too. Coosa Pines Federal Credit Union has branches in Childersburg, Sylacauga, Chelsea, Pell City and Birmingham. Membership is open to people who live, work, attend school or worship in Clay, Coosa, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair or Talladega counties in Alabama.

Greenville Heritage Federal Credit Union (Greenville, SC) – Basic Checking

Greenville Heritage Federal Credit Union offers several great checking accounts, all of which are free and earn dividends. Basic Checking is their standard free checking option. The account has no minimum balance requirements, free online bill pay, free Verified by Visa service and free Instant Teller service. Graduate Checking is available for college students. It has all of the same perks, as well as free checks and unlimited check writing. Heritage Advantage Checking is the next step up for members, offering a high interest rate on balances up to $25,000. To qualify, you’ll need to sign up for e-statements, have 1 Direct Deposit or ACH credit transaction a month, make 12 or more signature debit transactions a month and use Home Banking once a month. Greenville Heritage Federal Credit Union has branches in Greenville and Simpsonville. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Greenville County.

Somerville Municipal Federal Credit Union (Somerville, MA) – Share Draft Checking

Somerville Municipal Federal Credit Union offers a simple, worry-free checking account that’s a great alternative to anything you’ll find at a big bank: the Share Draft Checking account. Besides being free, it has no limit on check writing, deposits or any other transactions. Somerville Municipal Federal Credit Union offers free automatic payroll deductions to make saving easy, and direct deposit for recurring payments. Somerville Municipal Federal Credit Union membership is open to anyone who lives in the city of Somerville.

Austin Telco Federal Credit Union (Austin, TX) – Free Checking

Austin Telco Federal Credit Union goes above and beyond most free checking accounts. They offer access to over 300 ATMs in the Austin area, online and mobile banking, free electronic bill pay, monthly eNewsletters and a free Visa debit card. Their Switch Kit makes switching to Austin Telco FCU a breeze. Austin Telco Federal Credit Union has branches in Austin, Bastrop, Buda, Cedar Park, Georgetown and surrounding cities. If you live, work, worship or attend school in Austin’s five-county Metropolitan Area, you should give them a try.

Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union (Battle Creek, MI) – Classic Free Checking

Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union’s Classic Free Checking account offers online banking and bill pay, online check ordering and e-statements, and access to 28,000 ATMs nationwide, free of charge. Their Green Checking account, for the more environmentally friendly among us, offers the same perks and a high interest rate to boot, in exchange for setting up a regular direct deposit of $300 or more. Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union has branches in Battle Creek, Galesburg, Marshall, Portage, Kalamazoo and Three Rivers. Membership is open to all residents and businesses located in Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph or Van Buren counties in Michigan.

Pacific NW Federal Credit Union (Portland, OR) – Basic Checking

Pacific NW Federal Credit Union has a variety of account options for the choosy consumer with different perks for different accounts. Basic Checking has no monthly charges, 3 free non-credit union transactions a month and unlimited check writing. The E-Checking account drops paper statements and also enrolls you in a raffle to win an Apple iPad if you sign up by January 31. To earn dividends on either the Basic or E-Checking accounts, you can upgrade to Basic Checking Plus or E-Checking Plus, but you must maintain a $500 minimum balance. Pacific NW Federal Credit Union has branches in Portland and Hood River, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. Membership is open to anyone who lives in Northeast Portland, Hood River County or Wasco County in Oregon, or Klickitat County or Skamania County in Washington. Affiliates of select employee groups and family of eligible members may also join.

Unity Catholic Federal Credit Union (Parma, OH) – Smart Checking

Unity Catholic Federal Credit Union’s Smart Checking account means no monthly service fee, no minimum balance requirement, unlimited check writing, unlimited transactions at Alliance One and certain Money Pass ATMs, free home banking and free online bill pay (requires one transaction every 90 days). If you want the opportunity to earn dividends, the Money Marketing Checking account is available for those able to maintain a daily balance of $1,500 or more. Unity Catholic Federal Credit Union has branches in Parma, Brunswick, Lakewood and Wooster. Membership is open to parishioners, students and employees of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and Eparchy of Parma.

2013 image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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