Fee Waiver On 10 Services Draws Media Attention

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The elimination of 10 different fees for such services as travelers checks, credit cards, starter checks and account research has proven to be more than just "a nice, positive media experience" for Wright-Patt Credit Union, Inc.,

While media and members alike were pleased with the move, the real benefit is that Wright-Patt is "walking the talk" about the industry, said Gary Easterling, VP & Chief Business Development Officer.

WPCU with more than $1 billion in assets cut the fees in early March as part of its push to rediscover the its purpose (CU Journal, March 14).

In announcing the cuts, Easterling called the effort "an honest give back" to help distinguish CUs from other banking institutions. As part of a larger initiative to focus on the "value proposition of a cooperative to its members,"

Credit union officials evaluated the fee structure and found 10 that could be cut with no negative revenue impact to the credit union.

"We know our member owners do not like fees," he said. "So we found ways to cut them where it made sense."

While fees such as those associated with loan payment and NSF's-behavior modification fees-were deemed necessary, other fees for such things as traveler's checks, document copies and account research were deemed more of a nuisance.

"As we continue to review our fees, we will ask ourselves whether we are charging the right rate or whether we are just following the marketplace," Easterling said.

The CU's practice is to charge only those fees necessary to recover costs of operation or to encourage responsible use of accounts, he said.

He said credit union officials plan to review the fee structure annually in hopes of making more cuts.

"First, we'll determine which fees do not fit our policy and then determine the revenue stream," he said, admitting that the next round of cuts will be tougher. "We will have to ask ourselves, 'Can we live without this revenue?"'

Easterling said anything the CU can do to ease the members' financial strains is worth the effort. "I think the less bank-like behavior we engage in, the more our members respond to it."

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