If you are thinking of opening a new checking account or perhaps even changing checking accounts, it’s a good idea to find an account that charges the least fees. When shopping around for checking accounts, you may find that many banks advertise free accounts with no monthly maintenance service charges. Even so, such free accounts could carry other fees. Therefore, it’s important to review the types of fees you might be looking at if you opt for a free checking account.
Free Checking Accounts with the Lowest Fees
Online banks often charge the lowest fees for checking accounts. The reason for this is that it’s simply cheaper to operate an online bank, which makes it possible to pass those savings on to customers. The best way to obtain checking account with no or few fees is usually to opt for an online bank; however, if you are looking for a no-fee checking account from a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, you might consider negotiating. If that proves unsuccessful, be prepared to meet the requirements to have monthly fees waived. For most accounts, this means maintaining a minimum balance. Unfortunately, this can be a somewhat of an inconvenience for many consumers.
Fees Sometimes Included with Free Checking Accounts
In most cases, you do not have to worry about paying a monthly maintenance charge with a free checking account. The most common fees charged with a free checking account are overdraft fees. In many instances, you may also be required to maintain a minimum balance. Keep in mind that some banks may also require a minimum opening deposit for a free checking account. The fees charged for free checking accounts tend to vary among banks, so it’s a good idea to do your homework.
Free Checking Accounts with the Highest Fees
Banks with the highest fees usually include brick-and-mortar banks. This is generally because such banks are more expensive to operate. The free checking account offered by Great Western Bank comes with the highest overdraft fee of all free checking accounts included in this comparison. That fee is $33. There is also a $50 minimum opening deposit for this account, which is also the highest minimum opening deposit of the accounts compared here. By comparison, Ally Bank has an overdraft fee of $25. Customers can take advantage of a $10 reimbursement per statement cycle for any fees that are charged at other ATMs.
It should be noted that while Arvest Bank features a lower overdraft fee than is available with the free checking account at Great Western Bank, both banks have a $50 minimum opening deposit requirement. In spite of the fact that an account at a brick-and-mortar bank usually has more fees, there are also more benefits. Such advantages include the ability to keep one’s accounts and assets in a single location, a larger selection of checking accounts, and the ability to interact one-on-one with a bank representative. Although the last point might not be important to some consumers, for others the opportunity to interact with a live person at a bank is critical forming a lasting business relationship.
Free Services Offered with Checking Accounts
Below, we present the best free checking accounts which offer a wide selection of free perks and services. Among those best free services include:
Free mobile banking
Free online banking
Free electronic or online statements
No ATM fees
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Free Checking Accounts
Overall, free checking accounts that feature minimum opening deposit requirements and overdraft fees usually offer more rewards, free services, and convenience perks. Conversely, free checking accounts without an overdraft fees or minimum opening deposit requirement still offer ample features, such as online and mobile banking and rewards programs. When it comes to choosing the best free checking accounts, it’s possible to select which benefits and fees will best fit your needs.
Searching for Promotional Offers
Another great way to take advantage of the lowest fees is to see if your local credit union or bank is running a promotion that would allow you to open your checking account for free as a new customer. Even if you are only able to have the fees waived for a few months, this would still give you time to find a way that you can minimize future fees. In order to find a promotional offer from a credit union or bank near you, check local websites. If you have a current credit union or bank, be sure to ask whether you can have the fees waived or if there is another way to open a checking account for free.
Getting Around ATM Fees
There are actually many ways you can get around paying fees charged by your credit union or bank for using your checking account. One way that many banks and credit unions make money is by charging a fee each time you use an ATM to get your money from your account. In order to avoid that fee, you can use ATMs that do not charge a fee or use your debit card to pay for purchases. The bank or credit union may also allow you to use their own ATM without charging you a fee. In some cases, the credit union or bank may also give you the option to withdraw a certain amount of money from the ATM without charging you a fee. In recent years, this practice has become less common, but your bank or credit union may also offer to reimburse any fees you are charged at the ATM within a given period of time.
Does the Bank Charge a Minimum Balance Requirement?
The best way to avoid paying fees for a checking account is to seek out an account that will not charge you a fee if you do not maintain a minimum balance. It’s quite common for banks and credit unions to require that customers maintain a minimum balance of between $100 and $1,500. This minimum balance must be maintained at all times. Prior to opening a checking account, it’s important to make sure you ask if the bank or credit union requires a minimum fee. Furthermore, you should ask how long your balance can be less than the required minimum before a fee is charged.
When searching for an inexpensive or free checking account, it’s important to be smart and do your research. Take the time to compare as many options for checking accounts as possible while also searching for promotions. Also, look for ways that you can avoid the most common fees for checking accounts to help you save as much money as possible. Taking these steps can help to increase your chances for finding a checking account that will allow you to hold on to your money without spending it on fees.
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