WASHINGTON -- Banks charge more fees and higher ones than credit unions on checking accounts and most other services -- excluding ATM fees, the Consumer Federation of America and a credit union group found in a survey. A banking industry representative said the survey was weighted toward smaller credit unions, making for unfair comparisons, and that credit unions generally are able to charge lower fees because they are exempt from paying taxes.
The nation's economic expansion, entering its seventh year, is the third-longest this century. It has helped offset job insecurity and boosted the dollar value of many retirement and investment portfolios. But while consumers are confident and using credit cards more than ever before, a record number are falling behind in their payments, according to reports released Thursday. On paper, at least, Americans think they are richer than ever, even if they are not always paying their credit-card bills or rent on time.