Seniors may benefit more from credit union checking accounts

The Pew Charitable Trust, an independent non-profit organization, warned senior citizens in a recent study to more closely examine their banks’ senior checking accounts for value.

The study examined banks and credit unions, as well as three specific types of senior checking accounts found in the banking industry, according to Credit Unions Online.

The authors of the study said that the basic senior account is the most cost-effective of all senior accounts, which are only somewhat cheaper than regular free checking accounts.

The second account type – the low-fee, low-cost senior account – offers lower fees than a basic account, as well as a lower minimum monthly balance required to waive the fee. Pew said that seniors can save between $48 and $96 each year using this type of account, depending on the monthly balance maintained, Credit Unions Online reports.

The third account type is the “senior added benefit” account, which provides for higher interest rates and fee waivers if the accountholder maintains a higher account balance, approximately $5,000 on average. Seniors with “added benefit” accounts may have to pay between $156 to $300 more per year if they do not meet the minimum account balance requirements.

A different study by revealed that while senior checking may be more readily available at banks, credit unions are more driven towards low-fee or free checking products, according to Credit Unions Online.

The study found that credit unions are more likely to offer higher interest rates and bonuses, including product and travel discounts, on senior accounts.

Additionally, the study identified what it ranked as the “best senior checking accounts.” Philadelphia Federal Credit Union’s “senior checking” account and Northwest Community Credit Union’s “VIP checking” account were among the top-ranked senior checking accounts, Credit Unions Online reports.

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