SOURCE: ACTON Marketing, LLC

ACTON Marketing, LLC

February 15, 2011 10:19 ET

Survey Results by ACTON Market Intelligence Indicate a Majority of Consumers Will Switch to Keep Free Checking

LINCOLN, NE--(Marketwire - February 15, 2011) - Results of a nationwide survey of U.S. banking customers by ACTON Market Intelligence finds that 87% of American adults 18 years of age and older have a free checking account. This number jumps to a surprising 94% of those adults having a checking account. These extremely high penetration numbers indicate the importance consumers place on an inexpensive, no-frills checking account such as free checking. It's the checking account of choice for the vast majority of Americans.

Unfortunately, the continued availability of this valued account is in serious jeopardy as some of the nation's largest banks are not only eliminating this account from their product menu, they are adding monthly service fees and minimum balance requirements to existing accounts. The decision to reprice free checking is the result of lost fee income from the recent overdraft opt-in legislation, lowering of the debit card interchange fees paid by merchants, and the anticipated costs of complying with the recent CARD Act of 2009 and Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

The primary goal of this survey was to determine what impact this repricing would have on consumers' desire and willingness to switch banks in an effort to retain free checking. Study findings indicate that a majority of free checking customers (58%) would likely switch to another bank or credit union to retain free checking should their bank or credit union eliminate their free checking account by repricing it. Checking customers in the Western Census Region are the most likely to make this switch if faced with a fee-based account from their existing financial institution.

ACTON Marketing CEO Brian Beach says, "We tested a number of unique repricing scenarios to determine the impact each one would have on a free checking customer's likelihood of switching to another financial institution that continues offering free checking. We were surprised to discover that regardless of the repricing approach a bank or credit union takes, at least half or more of its free checking customers are likely to switch banks. We see this as a very positive opportunity for the smaller community banks and credit unions that stick with the free checking account."

The survey results are available by male/female, age group, income range, and census region.

Beach continues, "Now that a few major banks have decided to drop the very popular free checking account, thousands of smaller banks and credit unions are looking for reliable information on whether to follow suit or stick with free checking. Instead of basing any repricing decision on follow-the-leader, speculation, or intuition, the ACTON Market Intelligence Free Checking Report provides them with the definitive data to make a more informed decision. One big advantage of sticking with free checking is the opportunity to gain market share with those consumers leaving the bigger banks."

"Suffice it to say, we anticipate a lot of churn in the checking account market in the next couple of years as more banks join the big banks in eliminating the free checking account," Beach says.

For information about obtaining a copy of this informative report, go to www.actonfs.com and click on the Market Research link, or call 1-800-226-9149.

After two earlier successful webinars based on the report, ACTON Marketing is offering two additional free webinars at 2:00 p.m., CST, Thursday, February 24, and Friday, February 25, at 10:00 a.m., CST. Besides reviewing the report results, the webinars discuss the impact the results will have on financial institutions' checking programs. Those who wish to attend can sign-up for the webinars at www.actonfs.com/AMIFCwebinar.aspx.

ACTON Market Intelligence is a consumer research division wholly-owned by ACTON Marketing LLC, in Lincoln, Nebraska. ACTON Marketing is a full-service direct marketing organization that provides complete direct mail marketing programs and strategies to financial services organizations.

(C)2011 ACTON Marketing, LLC, 3401 NW 39th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68524-2208

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