AUSTIN, Texas — Amplify Credit Union is celebrating its one-year anniversary of fee-free banking, which resulted in a $2 million give back in the first year of the program. Amplify is the first full-service financial institution in the country to eliminate all banking fees — including overdraft fees, account maintenance fees, and wire transfer fees — and will continue addressing financial inclusion in Central Texas by hosting an affordability summit this spring that features Mayor Kirk Watson.
“Credit unions don’t often get the chance to be disruptors,” Kendall Garrison, chief executive officer at Amplify, said. “Fee-free banking is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hold a mirror up to our industry and say, hey, it’s time to show you care more about people than profit.”
We have an affordability emergency in Austin, and I appreciate that Amplify Credit Union has taken the initiative to look at how to improve its own business practices to foster affordability.”
—AUSTIN MAYOR KIRK WATSON
The affordability summit is the first step in a ten-year commitment from Amplify to transform its business model and take a more systemic approach to affordability in Central Texas. Rather than treat financial inclusion as a philanthropic challenge, Amplify is making changes to core elements of its business model to better serve younger generations and people of color. This includes making fee-free banking the new standard in Texas and significantly increasing Amplify’s portfolio of Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loans.
Garrison views Amplify’s affordability summit as an important opportunity to take a holistic view of the financial hurdles faced in Central Texas.
“Affordability is about more than just housing. We’re looking forward to hosting Mayor Watson and discussing how we build a new approach to financial inclusion in Austin.”
As Amplify looks to build a consensus of community action on affordability, the credit union will work alongside Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, who has made the issue of affordability in Austin central to his work at City Hall.
“We have an affordability emergency in Austin, and I appreciate that Amplify Credit Union has taken the initiative to look at how to improve its own business practices to foster affordability,” Watson said. “They’re leading by example and focused on finding tangible ways to help our community. I look forward to partnering with Amplify in the weeks to come to bring attention and solutions to this challenge.”
In its first year of fee-free banking, Amplify has disproven several industry myths around banking behaviors and consumer activity. Since going fee-free, the balances of new credit union members are 40% more than the credit union’s average, while charge-offs related to overdrafts – negative account balances that get written off as a loss – are down year-over-year. This rejects the conventional wisdom that fees are a necessary deterrent to enforce smarter spending from banking customers.
“Somewhere along the way, banks convinced consumers that it was in their best interest to be charged hundreds or even thousands of dollars in bank fees,” Stacy Armijo, chief experience officer at Amplify, said. “If we are going to enact lasting change in our community, then we need people willing to challenge that business-as-usual approach. We are excited to celebrate the one-year anniversary of fee-free banking by bringing together some of the best thought leaders in our community and challenge some of those conventions together.”
About Amplify Credit Union
Amplify Credit Union offers fee-free banking and award-winning lending throughout the state of Texas. In 1967, the organization was founded as the credit union for IBM employees in Austin. Today, it provides digital-first banking and lending services to over 65,000 members, including home loans, checking & savings accounts, commercial lending, and more. In addition, Amplify has been named a Top Workplace in Austin for three years in a row, and this year was named a Top 50 Workplace in the USA. The organization is rooted in its mission to improve the financial lives of its members and uses the proceeds from that to provide a safe place to call home for those without. Join us at www.goamplify.com.