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Free checking accounts are very popular. The number of banks that offer them is growing. However, less than 25 percent of these checking accounts are actually free.

It is very common for people to be under the impression that they have a free checking account. However, many times they are wrong. In order for there to be no charges on the account, a minimum balance must be sustained and certain restrictions must be followed. For example, a maintenance fee will be charged if you account balance dips below the minimum. Also a fee may be imposed if you write a certain number of checks in one month or make a certain amount of transactions.  If you have no problem keeping the required balance and/or you don't write a lot of checks or perform many transactions, then these requirements are not impacting.

Free checking will save a few dollars every month. However, they also have some drawbacks. They don't pay interest and it is likely that you will be limited to the amount of money you can withdraw from an ATM on a day-to-day basis. It may also be required that your paycheck is direct-deposited into your account.

Fees associated with 'free'
It is important to understand that just because your account is 'free', that you will likely still be charged other fees. There are a variety of justifiable fees that will be imposed by your bank under certain circumstances, i.e. having non-sufficient funds (NSF), check printing, stopping payment, account inactivity, terminating an account early.

Almost every bank will provide a debit card for customers with free checking accounts. These cards allow for easy access to money, making purchases and for performing transactions. However, most banks impose a fee every time a debit card is used for making purchases or when an ATM is used from another bank branch. Many consumers are very surprised when they are hit with these charges for the first time. Another drawback of using debit cards is that they don't offer the same amount of protection for purchases as credit cards do. Learn more about the advantages of credit cards.

Check your bank's fee schedule
You should obtain a copy of several different banks' fee schedules when looking to apply for any type of checking account, including free checking. Compare the rates and fees and determine which is the best deal. If you need help choosing a bank for your checking, please contact us.



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