Westerra Credit Union has eliminated all overdraft fees and nonsufficient funds fees on checking accounts. The Denver-based credit union had been waiving all fees since March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, and now they have permanently discontinued all overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees. They are among the first financial institutions in the nation to make this move.
Westerra is challenging other financial institutions to break the longtime tradition of financial institutions charging fees when consumers do not have enough funds in their accounts to cover transactions. “Let’s work together to make a difference for the people in our community,” said Jay Champion, Westerra Credit Union President/ CEO. “Let’s help people manage life’s challenges, not make it more difficult by charging fees when they can least afford it.”
Westerra Credit Union did a lot of research with consumers, members, and non-members in Denver. They did focus groups, statistically valid mass sampling of people, and surveys. The results were clear. People do not want to pay big fees. They want advice and help with money. They also want to feel like they can trust the institution. “We want to help you learn how to manage your money and not hit you with a big fee,” said Champion. “It’s really about being proactive on how to avoid those fees and how to transfer money from your savings accounts or using our overdraft line of credit.”
“Our core purpose is to teach one another to prosper,” Champion said. “Instead of charging people a fee when they go negative, we think our job is to encourage them to learn how to avoid going negative. We felt that this was the right thing to do and the fact of the matter is that we will still cover an expense for somebody if they need to go a little negative, we’re just not going to charge them a $31 fee. So many people are living paycheck to paycheck. Eliminating these fees helps keep them from falling further behind as they struggle to make ends meet.”
“We’re undergoing a transformation at Westerra, and in our country,” said Champion. “This move to eliminate archaic check overdraft fees is another step closer to our goal of creating a more equitable banking experience for everyone.”
Champion went on to explain that there are a variety of tools members can use to monitor their accounts. They can set alerts for when funds reach certain low balances and they can have funds automatically transferred from other accounts. If there are insufficient funds in the account, the transaction may be declined without a fee, so they can arrange another form of payment, or a payment on another date. Westerra regularly conducts financial checkups with members to help them understand how to utilize these tools. Westerra also recently launched technology to make it easy for consumers to open checking accounts in less than five minutes.
The website underwent an overhaul and the new website launched on November 2, 2021. The mobile app also got a refresh. The drop-down menus on the homepage of the website and self-directed. With the technology upgrade also came what Champion calls a “brand refresh.”
Following an extensive process, which included analyzing current market trends, receiving feedback from focus groups, engaging in discussions with members and staff, and conducting member and non-member surveys, Westerra unveiled a new logo, colors, and enhanced website experience. These changes are part of their ongoing transformation into a modern financial community.
“We put a lot of time, effort, heart, and soul into creating the new look for Westerra,” said Wade Paschall, Chief Marketing Officer at Westerra Credit Union. “We hope our members can feel how thoughtfully these changes were designed. These new elements align with the digital-first approach to how we deliver financial services to our members.”
“We’re undergoing a transformation at Westerra,” said Champion. “Westerra already has a reputation for its commitment to education, top-notch service, and an excellent member experience. The changes we launch today demonstrate our commitment to our members, our community, and our environment — all through a digital-first approach to our changing world.”
For more information, visit Westerra Credit union’s new website at www.westerracu.com. Westerra’s Cherry Creek branch is located at 3700 E. Alameda Ave.
New Logo: Westerra Credit Union underwent a brand refresh complete with a new logo and website.