Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Where You Can Still Get Free Checking

New rules in the market that lower fees and take away profits from banks and credit unions are great for consumers on the surface but these same institutions are getting crafty and even doing away with most of their free products and services they once offered. It doesn't help that interest rates are horrifyingly low either so where does one go nowadays for a free checking account and possibly a better return on your hard earned money?

The reason online banks can offer so much more than traditional brick and mortar banks like Wells Fargo and Bank Of America is because they have less overhead expenses. Online banks offer free checking and saving accounts, usually without a minimum opening deposit. They offer the bells and whistles of a bank like checking, savings, certificate of deposits, online banking, bill pay, debit card and checks. Online banks are generous with interest bearing account especially if you compare it to banks like Chase.

Online banks can't do some things that brick and mortar branches can like: one on one customer service, easy exchanges with change and cash deposits, and your own personal banker, consultants and other professionals. Businesses are still in need of these brick and mortar banks as well for guidance and possibly referrals.

Credit unions are known for working for the people. They don't have stockholders to impress with artificially inflated balance sheets and they usually offer better interest rates on loans and depository accounts. Some credit unions still lack the accessibility that large cap banks offer. For instance, Citibank has an ATM in every single 7-Eleven store in the United States! Wells Fargo seems to around every corner and Bank Of America is international. Credit Unions, however, are still enticing with their free checking accounts.

Unfortantley, it's getting harder to find absolutely free checking accounts nowadays but you can still grab them at your local bank albeit with certain strict criteria met. If you have a mortgage with a bank, credit union or online, you most likely qualify for an absolutely free account depending of the balance of your home of course. Take advantage of what you already have and leverage that. If you can't meet minimum balances or afford to make 10 debit card transactions a statement period like some banks are asking for, then search elsewhere. Online will be my first recommendation.

I would love to hear what you guys think about the changes in the banking industry and where you are finding free accounts.

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