Future Shock: Don't Bank on Free Checking

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As new consumer-friendly credit card rules take effect, banks may look to checking account holders in addition to credit card holders for additional revenue, which could mean no more free checking at major banks.  Here’s how this development could affect you.

Changes in Terms

One way banks are expected to start tacking on fees is by changing requirements attached to accounts, according to The Wall Street Journal. That could mean requiring checking account holders to set up direct deposit or make a certain number of debits per month or otherwise incur fees.

Banks are also coming up with new checking account offerings to boost their revenue. Consumers concerned about identity theft and emergency preparedness can pay Fifth Third Bank $8 per month for its Secure Checking Account, which offers identity theft alerts, discounts on a safety deposit box and an emergency fund savings account, the Journal notes. One regional bank, BBVA Compass, offers a customizable checking account with features such as no fee to use another bank's ATM or a rebate of other banks' ATM fees, that costs $2 each per month.

Other Options

For those who want the cheapest, bare bones account, online banks may still remain relatively cheap options, however. Since there are few if any bricks and mortar branches and more automated systems, they’re cheaper to run.

If price trumps convenience for you, here are a few free checking accounts available at online banks.

Schwab Interest Checking
APY 0.75%
ATM Fee: $0
Insufficient Funds Fee: $25

ING Direct Interest Checking
APY 0.25%
ATM Fee: $0
Insufficient Funds Fee: $0

UnivestDirect Interest Checking
APY 0.25%
ATM Fee: $1.50
Insufficient Funds Fee: $35

For more on interest-bearing checking accounts, check out BankingMyWay.com.

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