The Status of Free Checking Accounts
Is Free Checking a Thing of the Past?
The percentage of credit unions that that offer free checking accounts with zero conditions compared to those that don’t offer free checking is amazing. Based on the statistics of regular banks that have stopped offering “no condition” free checking accounts, it is absolutely staggering. What CNBC noted from their research is that although many banks have pulled back on their free checking offers, free checking accounts are still widely available and you may already be enjoying the benefits of one of these no fee checking accounts. That being said consumers have noticed greater restrictions and/or more conditions being placed on their free checking accounts, by their current banks.
CNBC also notes that credit unions all over the country have seen a lot of positive press over the last few years. While banks have been experiencing a lot of turmoil, credit unions have been the recipients of a lot of positive attention. Credit unions offer have typically been known to offer higher interest rates on savings accounts, higher CD rates and lower interest rates on loans and more. While it is true that credit unions may not have as many features as large banks, not as many ATM locations, or offer quite as many services as larger banks, they have a lot going for them. And now we can add one more thing to their list…the possibility of a free checking account.
To be totally honest, free checking will still exist in one form or another, but by and large, not in the same manner or capacity that we may have all grown accustomed to over the last several years. You see, in the past just about anyone was able to open a checking account with a mere $50 dollars and reap the benefits of a free checking account. While that may be a thing of the past, free checking can and will still exist. The major difference will be the ability of the account holder to maintain a certain amount of money in their checking account. Also, in addition to having to maintain a much higher minimum balance in your checking account, you may also have to follow a lot more stringent rules in order to keep that checking account free.
There are some banks that waive monthly checking fees if you use your debit card on a more regular basis. This may come as a reward to those who maintain a lot of activity in their bank accounts. If a banking customer is not able to, or chooses not to use their debit in a certain month, they would be charged a fee on their checking account, thus rendering that checking account a fee-based checking account for that month. If in the months thereafter the bank customer reinitiates the use of their debit card, then the fee-based checking account would once again revert to a free checking account for as long as the customer continues to follow the terms of the free checking agreement.
In essence, while the free checking is as we may have known it may be disappearing, there are still rays of hope that a modified version will still exist. There are still free checking account online offers that seem to exist and there is hope that these online checking accounts will continue to stay free, but only time will tell. If you still want to open a checking account, you might have to do a lot more research than you may have had to in the past.