Readers have been reporting that they have been seeing new fees on their checking accounts from the mega banks. I've reviewed the new checking account options at some of the mega banks. It is harder to stay free of monthly fees. In the past a common way to have monthly fees waived was to maintain a certain balance or direct deposit. A new way that is growing in popularity is performing certain account activities. Two examples of the checking activity requirement to avoid a monthly fee are from Citibank and Chase.
Citibank has discontinued their EZ Checking account. The checking account that's now the easiest to avoid a monthly fee is the Citibank Basic Checking. To avoid a $8 monthly fee requires performing 5 qualifying transactions each month. These include direct deposit, debit card purchases, certain bill payments, ACH payments, checks paid and ATM cash withdrawals.
Chase Bank has a checking account with similar ways to avoid a monthly fee. Chase Checking requires either 5 debit card purchases or a direct deposit of at least $500 to avoid a monthly fee of $6.
Easy Free Checking Accounts
This activity requirement to avoid a monthly fee reminds me a little of high-yield reward checking accounts. However, with reward checking accounts, you're not hit with monthly service fees if you fail to meet the monthly requirements. You just won't receive the high interest rate and the ATM fee reimbursements. There are hundreds of community banks and credit unions around the nation offering free reward checking accounts. You can find these in our reward checking account tables.
If you don't want to worry about monthly account activity requirements, an internet checking account can be a good choice. Two popular ones are the checking accounts at Ally Bank and ING Direct. I compared these two in this post.
If you feel you need a local brick-and-mortar office, you might want to consider having two banks. One is an internet bank and the other is a local bank or credit union. I described this approach in my post on choosing a new bank. You can find regular checking accounts at both internet banks and from brick-and-mortar banks in our checking account tables.