Free checking is no longer easy to get

Free checking accounts minus the monthly maintenance fees are no longer easy to get as banks are making it increasingly difficult for people to qualify for checking accounts.  However, one can still avail a free checking account facility if they are willing to change their outlook a bit or by changing their banks.

Last year, Wells Fargo had raised the requirements on its free checking accounts.  Bank of America is doing a trial run by revamping its fee structure in 3 states last week, and Chase is likely to change its fee structure next month.

Eileen Leveckis, spokeswoman from Chase, has stated that this was due to the changes in regulation, competition, as well as customer behavior.

This is due to the fresh regulations as per the Card Act as well as the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill that will bring down the revenues which subsidize checking accounts, and hence these banks are trying to make up for it.

During fall of 2010, just 65% of the banks had offered free checking accounts that were non-interest bearing.  This was down from 76% during fall of 2009, as per the survey conducted by

According to Greg McBride from Bankrate the numbers are likely to fall further once the regulations take effect.  However, as per the 2010 survey, another 23% of banks had offered accounts which could become free with a simple thing like a direct deposit.

However, there are many community banks, online banks, as well as credit unions that will continue to offer these free checking accounts.  These banks are unlike the big banks since they do not have the same network of branches as well as ATM’s, but there are ATM’s that belong to the co-ops that offer free usage and reimburse the ATM fees for its customers.

McBride also states that free checking is well within the reach of most American but they will have to shop around a bit as well as change their behaviors to get a good deal.

One must be aware that even the free checking accounts do charge for wire transfers, bounced checks, as well as other services.

To ensure that one does not end up paying the unwanted fees, it is better to read all the terms and conditions in the bank manual before opting for a checking account.  Different banks will have different fees and features and there are always ways to avoid the extra fees.

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