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One Easy Way to Save Yourself Some Cash

New report finds free checking is prevalent at credit unions

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The nation's big banks make a good chunk of change by charging people fees attached to their checking accounts. If you're looking for an easy way to save some cash, look no further than that. Leaving a big bank and joining a credit union could be your ticket to savings.

According to a new Bankrate.com survey free checking is prevalent at credit unions, but disappearing from national banks. The study analyzed 50 of the nation's credit unions and found that 72 percent offer consumers a free checking account. That means you won't get hit with monthly fees or point-of-sale transaction fees, no matter your balance. Meanwhile, the percentage of big banks offering free checking has dropped from 76 percent in 2009 to just 38 percent in 2013.

Even when credit unions do charge for checking, it's often cheaper than what a bank charges. Credit union fees average between $2 and $3 per month, about 50 percent less than bank fees. As for overdrafts, credit unions charge an average of $26.78,compared to $32.74 for banks.

If this study has you considering making the switch, do your homework first and make sure a credit union fits your banking habits. In particular, you're going to want to be sure that you won't spend more using other bank's ATMs than you save on fees. For a quick overview, check out Money's guide to changing from a bank to a credit union.

Article was written by Chris O'Shea for SavvyMoney®.