Kasasa checking, savings accounts gain popularity

If you’ve seen or heard the advertisements on TV or on the radio recently, you may be asking yourself, “What’s a Kasasa?”

Simply put, Kasasa is a national brand of free personal checking and savings accounts that some community banks and credit unions are offering their customers.

In the midstate, First Capital Federal Credit Union of York and Lanco Federal Credit Union of Lancaster started offering them in 2014. And the benefits they offer — no minimum balance, high interest rates, cash back, debit card fee refunds and other rewards — are proving popular with consumers.

Tara Houser, vice president of marketing at First Capital, said that about 2,000 of their 10,000 members have made the switch to Kasasa in less than a year.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with those numbers, and I’m sure they’ll keep going up,” Houser said. “It’s a ‘wow’ product. Our customers like it because they get money back at the end of the month for doing the banking that they’d normally do anyway. So why wouldn’t someone want to switch?”

According to Houser, the free checking accounts that First Capital offers include Kasasa Cash, which offers a 2.25 percent interest rate (the current national average is about 0.04 percent) and up to $20 per month back; Kasasa Cash Back, which earns 3 percent on debit purchases with up to $9 back at the end of the month; and Kasasa Tunes, which offers $5 in refunds through iTunes and Amazon. There’s also Kasasa Saver, a free account for members who want their rewards to go right into their savings.

Kasasa’s nationwide ATM refunds are also a popular draw, Houser said: “So many consumers get $2 or $3 or $4 charges for using an ATM, but with Kasasa you can get those fees back up to $20 per month.”

The only qualifications are that customers need to have 12 debit card swipes per month, sign up for e-statements to replace their paper statements and log in to their online banking account at least once per month — all of which most consumers do anyway, Houser said.

“Consumers want to know what’s in it for them these days, and there’s no other checking account that does what Kasasa does,” she said. “It puts consumers first, and it’s very rewarding.”

Stacy Remick, CEO of Lanco Federal Credit Union, said that 16 percent of her checking account customers — nearly 1,000 out of 5,700 — have switched to a Kasasa account since they were launched in November, and the number will “certainly” go up.

“It’s been rising pretty steadily,” Remick said. “We’re expecting the word to spread among our members and to other people as well.”

Larry Portzline
Larry Portzline covers York County, nonprofits, workforce and education. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at larryp@cpbj.com.

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