Access to a checking account is more important than ever before. Many employers have eliminated paper paychecks in favor of automated direct deposits. Interpersonal payments are often completed with a check, and you will need a checking account to cash these checks if you want to avoid paying a fee.
Many types of checking accounts are available to help meet the needs of diverse consumers across the nation. Some of these accounts can only be accessed if you are willing to pay various service fees.
Modern consumers can rely on three reputable places for access to a truly fee-free checking account that will help streamline any financial transactions in the future.
1. Online Banks
Banks no longer need to offer their customers a brick-and-mortar location in order to complete most financial transactions. The Internet has made it possible to do almost all of your banking from your smartphone, home computer, or tablet.
Online banks are able to offer their customers access to free checking accounts because they don't have the overhead expense of maintaining several branch locations.
In addition to eliminating fees for basic transactions, online banks will sometimes pay interest on the balance within your checking account. The ability to earn interest can make an online bank an appealing place to seek out a fee-free checking account.
The drawback to an online bank is the inability to speak with a representative in person when you need assistance or immediate access to the funds from a cashed check.
2. Small Banks or Credit Unions
Small banks will typically offer fee-free checking accounts as a way to compete with national banks in the area.
A small bank is local to the area in which it operates, so it targets consumers within that area specifically by using free checking accounts as a way to get customers through the door. Don't be surprised if you are given a friendly sales pitch for additional financial products (like auto loans, certificates of deposit, or credit cards) as you open a fee-free checking account through a small, local bank.
Credit unions are similar to small banks, with the primary difference being that a credit union is customer-owned. This ownership model has encouraged credit unions to offer free checking accounts to all members.
You must qualify to join a credit union, but you can typically qualify based on where you live, where you work or attend school, or a relation to a current member.
3. Big Banks
If you are unable to locate a suitable online bank, small bank, or credit union — or you just want the convenience of working with a bank that has branches in every state — a big bank can be an option for obtaining a free checking account.
Big banks will usually charge fees for some of the services performed in conjunction with a checking account. You can research ways to have these fees waived so that you can enjoy the services offered by a big bank without incurring additional costs.
Some fees are waived if account holders sign up for direct deposit, maintain a minimum balance in their account throughout the month, or take advantage of other financial products available through the bank.
If you are able to qualify for fee waivers, you will be able to use your account with a big bank in much the same way you would use a fee-free account from another institution.
Finding a fee-free checking account can seem daunting, but the process becomes a lot easier when you know where to look. Research online banks, small banks or credit unions, and large banks that offer fee-waiver programs to find the right checking account for you.
To learn more, contact a resource that offers free checking accounts.