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Free Checking Still Exists 

By BankFoxStaff -- posted October 3, 2010

When the financial reform bill was being debated in congress earlier this year, many argued that the restrictions on banks would lead to the end of no-minimum balance free checking accounts. But since the bill barring hidden overdraft fees went into effect on August 15th, banks still seem to be offering such accounts, although in a few cases with some catches.

To preserve a no-minimum-balance, no fee checking account, Bank of America introduced its new eBanking Checking Account. The catch is that to avoid paying a monthly fee, customers must do all their banking online or via ATMs, and receive their statements electronically. Use a teller at a branch to make a withdrawal or request a statement in the mail, and you have to pay $8.95 for the month.

If you're still interested in banking with a live teller, other banks offer free no-min-balance checking with different catches.

Chase, for instance, offers Chase Checking, which is a no-minimum-balance, no-monthly-fee checking account, but only if you make 5 debit-card transactions a month. If you don't, there is a $6 fee for the period.

Wells Fargo, on the other hand, offers their Value Checking account for free with no min balance requirements, but the catch is that you must have at least one direct deposit made to the account of $250 or more per month. Otherwise there is a $5 monthly fee.

In addition to traditional banks, many online banks also still offer no-min-balance free checking, with the obvious catch that you can't walk into a physical branch to make a transaction. Ally Bank's Interest Checking account and ING Direct's Electric Orange are two examples of no-fee accounts, and in both cases, they even pay interest on the money you hold with them.

In short, it looks like consumers still have many ways to get no-fee and no-min-balance checking accounts despite industry spokespeople saying such offerings would go away. However, to get such free checking accounts, there may still be a catch.

Categories: Bank Education, Financial Reform.

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