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Save money when you choose a free checking account

Banks charge fees for a number of things — not maintaining a minimum balance, using ATMs and monthly maintenance fees. Finding a checking account that doesn’t charge you fees can be tricky. Some banks allow you to work around those fees if you meet other standards. Check out these tips to helping your save on bank fees.

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USAA Free Checking Account

USAA free checking account

A checking account for military members and their families with full online access and limited fees.

  • A free checking account that saves you money
  • Deposits are easy and convenient
  • Free tools available online and on the go
  • No minimum balance

    How do free checking accounts work?

    A truly free checking account will waive the monthly fee no matter how much you deposit into the account. Other free bank accounts waive the ATM fees or give cash back.

    Most free checking accounts still have backend fees for certain transactions, like overseas withdrawals and international transaction fees.

    What fee do you want to avoid? Bank accounts that avoid this fee
    Monthly fees
    • Ally Bank
    • BBVA Compass ClearChoice Free Checkingt
    • Capital One 360 Checking
    Domestic ATM withdrawal fees
    • Ally Bank
    • Bank of America Core Checking
    • BBVA Compass ClearChoice Free Checking
    • Capital One 360 Checking
    • Chase Premier Plus Checking
    • Chase Total Checking
    • Citibank Full-Feature Relationship Checking
    • HSBC Basic Banking
    • US Bank Easy Checking
    • Wells Fargo Everyday Checking
    Overdraft fees
    • Citibank Affordable Access Banking
    International money transfer fees
    • Capital One 360 Checking

    Do free bank accounts earn interest?

    These accounts don’t reward you with interest, though there are many free savings accounts that reward you with bonus interest to help grow your balance.


    bank-accountsHow do I compare free checking accounts?

    Read the fee-free conditions

    Some bank accounts don’t charge monthly fees when you meet conditions like direct deposit each month. These ranges from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the account.

    Determine if your salary can cover the direct deposit

    In most cases, your paychecks should be enough waive the monthly fee. Sign up for direct deposit with your employer.

    Look at the other non-traditional fees that apply

    These accounts waive the monthly service fee but other fees could apply. You may be charged for using your bank account overseas for purchases or ATM withdrawals. Read the product disclosure statement for a full breakdown of fees.

    Linked debit card access

    Financial institutions give you a debit card with a Visa or Mastercard logo to use at the ATM or for purchases.

    ATM network and cost for withdrawals

    Most banks charge a fee when you make an ATM withdrawal from a non-partner ATM. Naturally, the financial institution with the largest ATM network looks the most favorable, but you can find banks that don’t charge ATM fees.

    Other products offerings

    What else does the financial institution offer? You can make instant transfers between a savings account and free checking account if both accounts are held with the same institution.


    What are the pros and cons of free checking accounts?

    Pros

    • There are monthly fees. By choosing a free bank account you can save money every month.
    • You get ATM access. Some give you deals on ATM transactions while others don’t charge for transactions at a non-partner ATMs.
    • Other perks. Waiving the monthly service fee is the least you should expect. Some bank accounts give you perks like cash back.

    Cons

    • You still get charged other odd fees. Unfortunately truly free checking isn’t common. Bank account issuers will still charge for certain types of transactions, like making a purchase or withdrawing money overseas and overdrafting your account. However it’s possible to get by without incurring any of these fees.

    Common questions about free checking accounts

    How do I know if an account is really fee free?

    There are many accounts that waive the monthly transaction fee; however, other fees may still apply. Common backend fees include:

    • Statement reissuing.
    • Additional card.
    • Telephone banking transactions and staff-assisted transactions made at a branch.
    • Overdraft.
    • Purchase in a foreign currency.
    • Overseas ATM withdrawals.


    Can I overdraft my transaction account?

    Some financial institutions offer overdraft protection, linking your checking to a savings account. This covers you if you ever spend more then you have.


    How to avoid a checking account monthly fee

    Bank account Monthly fee
    Ally Bank No monthly fee.
    Bank of America Core Checking $12, avoidable if you make at least one qualifying Direct Deposit of $250 or more or maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more, or meet other conditions.
    BBVA Compass ClearChoice Free Checking No monthly fee.
    Capital One 360 Checking No monthly account fee or ATM fee.
    Chase Premier Plus Checking $25, avoidable if an average beginning day balance of $15,000 or more in any combination of this account and linked qualifying deposits Footnote/investments or have a linked qualifying Chase first mortgage enrolled in automatic payments Footnote from your Chase account.
    Chase Total Checking $12, avoidable if Direct deposits totaling $500 or more made to this account or a balance at the beginning of each day of $1,500 or more in this account or an average beginning day balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of this account and linked qualifying deposits/investments.
    Citibank Simple Checking $12, avoidable if you make one direct deposit per month and one bill payment per month, or maintain a $1,500 or higher monthly balance.
    HSBC Basic Banking $3, Regardless of balance, $0.35 for each check/withdrawal slip over 8, You may make an unlimited number of deposits without any additional charge.
    US Bank Easy Checking $6.95, avoidable if Combined monthly direct deposits totaling $1,000+ or an average account balance of $1,500+
    Wells Fargo Everyday Checking $10, avoidable if you make 10 monthly purchases/payments, make two direct deposits totaling $500 or more, hold a $1,500 minimum daily balance, or meet other qualifications.
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