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Declining Fee Income Displays CUs’ Positive Impact on Members

New trends published by America’s Credit Unions (ACU) reveal that fee income at credit unions in California, Nevada, and across the United States sits at one of its lowest points in modern-recorded history (1991 – 2023) — a positive financial boon to members’ collective bottom line as credit unions continue making an impact.

Collectively, from a basis-points-of-average-assets perspective, non-interest income from fees on services and accounts declined 61 percent at California credit unions from 2009 to 2023 and declined 54 percent at Nevada credit unions during the same period. Across the United States, this category dropped by 49 percent.

The data reveals that non-interest fee income has declined from a confluence of two trends. As the industry’s average assets rise from new members joining with new deposits, credit unions in general have continued to keep a moderate lid on bringing in fee income over the long term — which assists their members financially oftentimes where it most helps.

Non-interest fee income includes ATM fees, credit card fees, wire fees, account research fees, late fees, statement production fees, dormant account fees, transaction service fees, safekeeping fees, overdraft fees, and others. Nationally, non-interest fee income was 8 percent of credit unions’ total gross annual income in 2023. Another 12 percent was non-interest income (non-fees), and the remaining 80 percent was interest income (loans).

“You can see in the summary results of our recent Pulse Survey that credit union members are 1.4-times more likely than non-members to say they’ve had a personal conversation about their finances with someone at their credit union,” said Mike Schenk, chief economist and deputy chief advocacy officer for policy analysis at ACU. “Members are also 1.5-times more likely than non-members to say they are ‘very positive’ their financial institution — their credit union — has improved their financial wellbeing.”

He added: “Not surprisingly, members also are 1.4-times more likely than non-members to say they are ‘very positive’ that they can trust their financial institution — their credit union.”

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