Free Checking Accounts

by Mr. Checking

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Free Checking Accounts

Free checking accounts are an attractive proposition to anyone with a limited amount of money, someone who needs a bank account to simply pay bills, or who wants a better way to keep track of their money. Before opening any accounts, it is important to explore all the options and determine which accounts best meet your needs. Free checking accounts are one of many banking options, and they can be appropriate for many people who do not need premium services.

What is free checking?

Free checking accounts are checking accounts that have no monthly or annual fees. They may have certain restrictions, including a minimum balance requirement or require that the associated debit card be used a certain number of times every month in order to maintain the free status. Other free checking accounts may be entirely free.

How does it work?

In the past, free checking was largely subsidized through heavy overdraft and other fees associated with all accounts. Today due to legislative changes, those fees are now highly limited. Free checking is still free, but there are more fees that may be associated with the account, particularly for any extra services the accountholder may need.

Are free checking accounts really free, or are there hidden costs?

Banks provide services, and these services are not free for them to provide. There may be other costs associated with a free checking account, so it is very important that a customer read the fine print before actually opening an account. If there is going to be a fee for seeing a teller, receiving a bank statement, or getting a copy of a check, it may be more affordable to pay for a traditional checking account that includes premium services.

Are there any benefits to using free checking accounts?

Free checking accounts are, of course, free. Apart from that, there are other benefits. Free checking accounts may also come with a variety of other services, including the following:

1. A free ATM or debit card
2. Free direct deposit and ACH transactions
3. Free online banking
4. No minimum balance
5. Unlimited check writing

What should I not expect from free checking?

1. Most free checking accounts will not give you free checks.
2. You will usually have to pay to use ATMs outside your bank’s network.
3. You will not earn interest on the balance in your free checking account.

Why may a free checking account not be the right choice for me?

Free checking accounts are often bare-bones checking accounts. You have an account, but many of the perks that accompany a paid checking account simply are not available to you. If all you need is a checking account, then free checking will work for you. If you are interested in services such as interest on your balance, overdraft protection, images of your checks, or any other premium services, you will need a paid account or an account that requires a minimum balance.

Where can I find a free checking account?

Free checking accounts were once easy to find; banks eager to bring in business would offer free checking accounts to attract new customers. Fewer banks now offer free checking accounts, but they can still be found through a number of sources.

1. Credit unions still offer free checking accounts. Credit unions operate similarly to banks with one major exception: A credit union account holder is also a shareholder in the credit union, making them a part owner. All accounts are interest bearing, and the drive to earn a profit is not nearly as strong, meaning fees are lower all around.
2. Online banks often offer free checking accounts. Online banks have to abide by the same rules and regulations as brick and mortar banks, but because they have fewer overhead costs, they can afford to pay higher interest rates and charge lower fees.
3. Traditional banks still offer free checking accounts, but it can be harder to find or involve jumping through hoops. Some banks may require a minimum balance, direct deposit, or a minimum number of debit card transactions per month, while others may limit teller access or require online banking as a condition of free checking.

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