Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Business & Finance
  3. Personal Finance

Choosing a checking account financial institution: Credit unions or banks?

See also

Along with paper statements, totally free checking accounts with banks have lost the popularity contest that they had in the late '90s and early 2000s. There used to be signs everywhere about joining for free with no fees. Now banks are sending mail to account holders confirming new mandatory minimum balances.

For account holders who were forced into going from totally free checking accounts to basic checking accounts, pay attention to the minimum balance rates. For example, popular banks, such as Chase, require $500 worth of monthly direct deposits in order to avoid the $12 fee. Or, keep a $1,500 to $5,000 minimum balance. Bank of America requires $250 worth of monthly direct deposits or risk the same $12 fee.

TCF Bank is still holding strong to its totally free checking account. However, with almost 40 locations being shut down in Jewel grocery stores and leaving Cub Foods grocery stores in other midwest locations, they're becoming less convenient to find.

And while some account holders don't need a financial institution to have ATMs and banks on every corner, it begs the question: Why not use credit unions?

Banks aren't the only financial institutions that offer checking accounts. Credit unions also have checking accounts, and sometimes the fees and minimum balances are cheaper. Chicago Municipal Employees Credit Union has a $6 monthly fee for checking accounts that don't have direct deposit or a $3,000 balance. Alliant Credit Union has free checking with no monthly service or balance requirement. First Northern Credit Union and North Side Community Federal Credit Union also don't require a minimum balance. And there are plenty more.

While some people can only join credit unions based on where they work, other credit union memberships are based on geographic location, churches, schools, unions and being related to a credit union member. Before putting your money in an organization be aware of the competition.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all her latest Chicago finance, employment and savings tips, or subscribe to her Chicago Personal Finance channel at the top of this page.



  • Pro-Russians killed
    Putin issues a warning after 3 armed protestors were shot dead in Ukraine
    Watch Video
  • Korean ferry capsizes
    Only one of 46 life boats were used in the South Korean ferry sinking
    World News
  • Oscar Pistorius trial
    Oscar Pistorius reads a Valentines Day card from his deceased girlfriend without tears
    Crime News
  • Google patent
    Google applies for patent for what could be the successor to Google Glass
    Tech News
  • 420 in Colorado
    Colorado will celebrate 420 for the first time since marijuana became legal
  • Racist Kansas murderer
    Why isn't the Jewish Community Center shooter being labeled as a terrorist?
    Watch Video

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about and apply today!