December 12, 2019 by Space Coast Credit Union
At a time when most bank fees are on the rise
and most of us need to save wherever we can, it’s a smart financial move to choose low- or no-fee checking accounts. At SCCU, our Free Checking Account is truly free, with no monthly service fee, regardless of your balance.
Not all free checking accounts are the same, with features and benefits varying from one financial institution to another. Before you choose where to put your hard-earned money, read on to learn what you need to know about your checking account choices.
What Consumers Look for in Checking Accounts
According to checking account maintenance fee research from MyBankTracker.com
, U.S. consumers paid more than $1 billion in monthly maintenance fees last year at the top five banks. While the survey showed that checking account fees weren’t the number-one consideration, it did reveal that features such as mobile banking and good customer service are near the top of the list.
At SCCU, you can have it all—all of our member checking accounts, including SCCU Free Checking
—include the most desirable features, such as free mobile banking
, free online banking
, free mobile deposits and so much more. Our members enjoy personal customer service as well as access to our online Help Center
where you can find information on all of our services and products.
Checking Account Features to Consider
There have never been so many choices in banking, but it can be a challenge to compare them. It can get even more confusing when some banks try to entice you with bonus offers and other initial specials that may not be such great deals over time.
With so many options available for checking accounts, how can you decide just where to keep your money and which accounts can help you reach your financial goals? Here’s a range of factors to consider when you’re making your decision:
Minimum Balances: There’s no need to be limited by a minimum balance requirement, some of which can be $500 or even more. That’s money that could be in a savings or investment account instead. SCCU Free Checking has no minimum balance requirement, and no monthly low-balance fee. Plus, you can open your account with a deposit of just $25.
Fees: Even low monthly maintenance fees can add up to a sizeable sum over time. Just $10 a month, for instance, is $120 a year that you could put in an interest-bearing account, make an extra payment on a credit card, or even pay for a gym membership! With Free Checking from SCCU, you have one more way to improve your finances, because there’s no monthly service fee to our members.
Free Access to ATMs:
One way some financial institutions boost profits is by charging for every ATM transaction, whether it’s at one of the institution’s ATMs or those outside their network (which can be expensive to use). Some online banks charge for all ATM transactions since they don’t have physical ATM locations. You don’t have to worry about piling up ATM fees with an SCCU Free Checking Account: There’s no cost to use any of our dozens of ATMs located throughout Florida
. We’re also part of a cooperative network of Shared Branch locations
you can use when you’re out of town or can’t locate a branch in your area.
Insurance: Make sure the bank you choose has its funds federally insured. At SCCU, your money is insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) up to $250,000. The NCUA is a U.S. government agency that offers consumers the same protection the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides to customers of other financial institutions that take deposits.
Disclaimers and Fine Print: Some banks are notorious for burying hidden fees in their terms. Be sure to read the fine print on any type of bank account you’re considering opening before you sign anything or click “I agree” online. Review the terms for rules on minimum balances, limitations on the number of transactions you can make in a certain time, and overdraft protection.
Here at SCCU, our Free Checking Account terms and fees are simple:
- Just $25 will open your Free Checking Account
- There’s no minimum daily balance required to keep your account open or to avoid incurring extra fees
- There’s no monthly low-balance fee
- There’s no monthly service fee
Limitations on Transactions: When you’re comparing checking accounts, another way you can save is to choose an account that doesn’t put restrictions on how many times you can deposit, withdraw, or transfer your money between your checking, savings, or other type of account. With an SCCU Free Checking Account, you can move funds between your accounts at no charge and even transfer money from an external account into your SCCU account for free.
Convenience Features: With digital and mobile technologies changing nearly every aspect of modern life, consumers expect financial products in particular to include a wide range of convenience features. More banks and financial institutions provide these features, but if you want your checking account to help you save money, research which banks charge you for them.
At SCCU, we give our members several ways to manage their finances and best of all, they’re free! In addition to no monthly service fees, here are just some of the features included with an SCCU Free Checking account:
- SCCU Priority Pay42
- Free CardValet app by Fiserv
- Free statements
- Free online and mobile banking
- Free mobile deposit29
- Free account alerts
- Free person-to-person payments
- Free Bill Payer30
- Free CALL-24 telephone banking
- Free access to SCCU ATMs
- Free Visa debit card
- No direct deposit requirement
What to Look for in a Financial Institution
With so many choices available now, comparing financial institutions can be overwhelming. To determine which one is best for you, consider the features and products you need to reach your financial goals. Bankrate.com offers these tips for making the right choice:
Determine the Type of Account You Need
Depending upon your priorities, a basic checking account may meet your needs. Look for a bank or financial institution that offers a wide range of account types. If saving is most important, you may want a bank that offers an interest checking account
, but make sure to find out if there are high minimum balance requirements. Money market savings
can be a good option as well—you’ll earn interest while still having easy access to your funds.
Do you prefer to do some of your banking in person at a branch, or need convenient access to in-network ATMs? According to J.D. Power, more than three-quarters of Americans opened their most recent accounts at a branch. Its data also showed that convenient branch locations were a common deciding factor in choosing a primary financial institution.
Take a Look at Credit Unions
Bankrate recommends researching credit unions before you make your choice of where to open a checking account. Because credit unions such as SCCU don’t have shareholders, they’re able to reinvest earnings in better rates on loans and savings for their members.
How to Switch to SCCU Free Checking
Regulatory changes made a few years ago put new limits on some of the revenue streams traditional banks once had, leading to an increase in several types of fees on consumer accounts. If your current financial institution is charging you more fees than you think you should be paying or fees that are too high, it may be time to make a switch.
When you start the process of switching from your old account to a new account at a new financial institution, make sure to leave enough money in your old account to cover any checks that may not have cleared yet or automatic withdrawals that may still be scheduled. Having both your old and new accounts open for a month or so can help keep you from inadvertently incurring overdraft fees or other charges. One more bit of advice from Forbes.com
: Don’t assume your old account is automatically closed because you withdraw all of the funds in it. Get documentation from the bank that your account is closed.
At SCCU, we make it easy to become a new member with our Switch Kit. The kit guides you through these steps:
- Use the Automatic Payment Checklist to list all of the automatic payments that will need to be transferred to your new SCCU Free Checking Account, and stop writing checks on your old account.
- Use the Reconciliation Worksheet to balance your checkbook and confirm you don’t have any outstanding checks that still need to clear.
- Use the Direct Deposit Change Form to transfer all of your direct deposit sources to your new SCCU Free Checking Account.
- Use the Automatic Payment Change Form to update all of the automatic payments listed and send them to the billing source of each one.
- After all of your information has been updated, use the Account Closure Request Form to close out your old account and have any outstanding funds still in that account sent to you.
Want to know more about us? Here are some of the questions we hear most frequently:
How do I become a member of SCCU?
Establishing your SCCU membership is easy. All you have to do is open a Share Savings account, which is also called a regular savings account. Every member starts with a Share Savings account, which gives them one equal “share” of SCCU. You can open a Share Savings account with just $5 (one share), which is all that’s required to keep your account open.
Once your Share Savings account is open, you can choose from multiple types of accounts, from checking to investment accounts, including:
Can anyone become a member?
Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in one of these counties in Florida:
- Brevard County
- Broward County
- Clay County
- Collier County
- Duval County
- Flagler County
- Hillsborough County
- Indian River County
- Lake County
- Lee County
- Manatee County
- Marion County
- Martin County
- Miami-Dade County
- Monroe County
- Nassau County
- Okeechobee County
- Orange County
- Osceola County
- Palm Beach County
- Pasco County
- Pinellas County
- Polk County
- Putnam County
- Seminole County
- St. Johns County
- St. Lucie County
- Sumter County
- Volusia County
Can I open a new account online?
Yes! With our online account application, you can get started with SCCU anytime, from anywhere. You can also get in touch with Express Sales using your local number below:
- Brevard: 321-752-2222
- Broward: 954-704-5000
- Miami-Dade: 305-882-5000
- All other areas: 800-447-7228
Want to Know More About SCCU Free Checking? Get in touch!
We know how important it is to make the right choice for your checking account funds—after all, it’s the account you’ll use every day. If you have questions about our Free Checking account or any of our solutions for your spending, saving or borrowing needs, please contact us online, by phone, or in-person at one of our convenient branch locations.