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Is Free Checking an Expectation? Online Banks Like Ally and ING Have Always Offered This

I was reading a business journal that I am subscribed to and learned that most major banks like Bank of America and Chase are planning on raising the fees consumers pay to have their checking accounts with these banks. Maybe free checking has become my expectation, but this news rubbed me the wrong way.

I paused to think about my own banking habits after reading this and could not remember the last time I paid any kind of bank fee other than a merchant account processing fee for collecting credit card payments from customers.

What fees are they referring to? I have no clue.  I do know however that online banks have always offered free checking accounts. In fact, for the few accounts that I have with major banks, I don’t recall ever paying any fees.

Maybe that’s because I hardly use the ATM and don’t pay cash for my purchases? Or that I keep a reasonable balance in each account to not get charged low balance or overdraft fees? I really don’t know.

I do know however that many people like my own father would put up with these fees to avoid the hassle of changing their bank and transferring a number of transactions set on auto pay, etc. People prefer convenience and I feel that the big banks are taking advantage of this. It’s bad enough that us tax payers had to bail them out in the first place.

Anyhow, online banks have always been attractive in this regard similar to smaller local banks and credit unions.  If you are comfortable banking online, Ally Bank, formerly GMAC Bank and INGDirect are two very good options.  For military members, veterans and their families, USAA is another good free checking option (I have a few accounts with USAA).

Free checking accounts with these banks typically have no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.  Online banking (including bill pay) is typically free.  Moreover, interest rates are usually also more attractive than checking accounts with large banks.

We all have options when it comes to banking.  Who are you banking with? Do you have free checking? Are you nimble enough to put up with the fees and overages and simply say goodbye and move to a competitor?  Who deserves your business?


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4 Responses to “Is Free Checking an Expectation? Online Banks Like Ally and ING Have Always Offered This”

  1. Hi Sunlil,

    I have always used a free checking account and I thought that the banks make their money charging you $30.00 or whatever for overdraft fees.

    • Sunil says:

      Oh man, the banks have a way to make money left right and center. The bigger the bank, the more they cream you in my experience. I hope you are getting ATM fees reimbursed through your free checking bank?

  2. Evan says:

    The B&M banks had to catch up with the free checking internet banks in the early 2000s when people became comfortable using online banking…but with the gov’t attacking their income streams they are looking for cash.

    I am basically with you though, it isn’t a good group to try and squeeze 20 bucks out of

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