If your bank has added monthly fees to your checking account, you should consider switching to a free reward checking account or an internet checking account. One downside with some internet banks is that you can't write paper checks. Examples of these internet banks include
ING Direct, HSBC Advance, FNBO Direct and Incredible Bank. Instead of writings checks, you have to use the bank's online bill pay service. If you need to give someone a check, you can always use the online bill pay, and the bank will mail the check to the person. You may also be able to have the bank mail you the check which you can give to the other person.
This bill pay option may not always be convenient. Being able to write a paper check can sometimes be a lot quicker and easier. In a poll from last year I asked how often do you write paper checks. Out of 67 votes, only 3 said they never write paper checks. Over half said they write at least 2 paper checks per month. So even if people don't write many paper checks, most want to have that capability with their checking account.
Fortunately, there are several internet banks that offer free checking accounts with paper check writing. Many also offer free checks. I've reviewed a few of the most popular ones below. For simplicity, I didn't include other features like interest rates, free ATMs and remote deposits. Below the list, I provide a quick overview of some of these other features.
- Ally Bank Interest Checking - free checks - no monthly fees
- USAA Bank Free Checking - free checks - no monthly fees
- Alliant Credit Union High Rate Checking - free first box of checks - no monthly fees
- Capital One Interest Online Checking - first order of checks is free - no monthly fees
- EverBank Interest Checking - first 25 checks are free - no monthly fees unless you have online bill pay (With bill pay, $5K min required to avoid $8.95/month fee)
- Charles Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking - free checks - no monthly fees (Schwab One brokerage account is required)
- Fidelity Investments mySmart Cash Account (brokerage account with FDIC coverage) - free checks - no monthly fees (Fidelity account is required)
- ING Direct's Electric Orange now offers paper checks. See review for details (updated 9/27/2011)
For small balances, the best two for interest rates are Alliant Credit Union and Capital One. Ally Bank and EverBank also offer decent rates, but that requires large balances.
In my opinion, the banks that are the best for free ATM usage is Ally Bank and Charles Schwab Bank. Others also offer free ATMs, but there are more limitations.
For remote deposit capture that allows you to scan checks and deposit them electronically, USAA Bank and EverBank are the leaders in this group. However, to qualify for USAA's Deposit@Home, you must be eligible for USAA property and casualty insurance which means that you must have a military connection.