Intro: 6 Tips for Finding The Best Banks with Free Checking, No Fees, and No Minimum Balance
Finding banks with free checking and no minimum balance can be an exhausting process without the right tools.
It is certainly no secret that having a bank account is often a necessity.
From obtaining a credit line to paying off utility bills, mortgages, and rent, bank accounts help keep money safe and allow for easy distribution of payments.
The best way to keep your money intact is to have a free checking account with no minimum balance. Banks that offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance can provide checking services without charging unnecessary fees. Unfortunately, banks with free checking and no minimum balance can be difficult to find.
Recently, monthly checking account fees are becoming a standard issue. Simply put, banking is a business. Banks need to make money, and for many, providing free checking accounts with no minimum balance does not make money.
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A growing trend in banking is to eliminate the no minimum balance checking option, and to instead distribute penalty fees for not maintaining that minimum balance.
In order to avoid the $4 fee, a minimum checking account balance of $300 is required. Without a checking account with no minimum balance, yearly fees at Suntrust could easily be $50.
Along with a high minimum checking balance, SunTrust also has one of the highest overdraft fees, at $36 per overdraft. While it may be impossible to escape overdraft fees, finding free checking accounts with no minimum balance is entirely possible.
Many reviews detail which banks offer no minimum balance checking, but not many provide the necessary tools to find similar banks on your own. Our review will provide customers with six of the best tips for finding top-quality banks with free checking and no minimum balance.
First and foremost, our review will answer the most common questions about free checking accounts with no minimum balance:
- What does free checking and no minimum balance entail?
- Why is it difficult to find a checking account with no minimum balance?
Second, our review will provide expert detail and expand upon six tips for finding no minimum balance checking. Our comprehensive approach will provide you with a detailed plan toward finding free checking accounts with no minimum balance. These six tips include:
- Make a detailed list of your banking needs
- Conduct thorough research on free checking and no minimum balance
- Read the fine print for no minimum balance checking
- Enlist help to locate what banks offer free checking with no minimum balance
- Be flexible in choosing your checking account
- Have honest and clear communication
In total, our review will offer a thorough tutorial on how to identify what banks offer free checking with no minimum balance. This comprehensive review will provide you with everything you need to begin your search for a checking account with no fees and no minimum balance.
What Does Free Checking and No Minimum Balance Entail?
Opening a checking account with no fees and no minimum balance means that you are not in danger of being charged simply for being a banking customer. A checking account with no minimum balance also means that you aren’t fined each month depending on your balance.
Simply put, free checking accounts with no minimum balance allow customers to utilize checking account services without paying penalty fines for not keeping enough money in their checking account. After all, bills and daily expenses are commonly extracted from checking accounts, making it difficult to maintain a constant, specified monthly balance.
Having a free checking account with no minimum balance affords the freedom to manage your accounts according to fluctuating needs. Banks with free checking and no minimum balance requirements allow for versatility and greater control. Banks that carry minimum balance requirement fees often call them “monthly maintenance fees.”
The problem with these monthly maintenance fees is that they can be incredibly constricting. Keeping a minimum balance in a checking account prevents the customer from using a portion of their money every month.
In contrast, free checking accounts with no minimum balance allow each banking customer to utilize their bank account according to their needs. Finding banks with free checking and no minimum balance means finding partnerships that will allow you to exert your own financial freedom.
Why Is It Difficult to Find a Checking Account with No Minimum Balance?
Banks with free checking and no minimum balance requirements aren’t making as much money as their competitors. Banking is indeed a business, and it comes with the usual business requirements.
Banks typically pay rent for their location and need to manage payroll for employees who maintain accounts and provide customer service. Because their overhead can be high, maintenance fees help cover the cost of operation.
Because of this high overhead, banks with multiple physical locations are much less likely to offer free checking and no minimum balance. Banks that operate online, however, are much more likely to provide no minimum balance checking. Online banks can operate without charging fees and without minimum balance requirements.
Your deposits are also how banks lend money out to other customers, helping to cover various loans. Banking income is earned through interest rates on loans—but without deposits from other customers, loans are difficult to approve. As a result, banks with free checking and no minimum balance might not give out as many loans.
Keeping strict rules for minimum balances—and charging penalty fees for not adhering to these rules—ensures that the bank will always have enough money on hand to administer loans. Checking accounts are like banking insurance, guaranteeing that a bank has the ability to earn interest.
A checking account with no minimum balance may prohibit a bank from making money. For example, a checking account with a balance of $3 can provide the bank with much less income than one with $25 or $50.
The maintenance fees garnered through failing to keep a minimum balance are a good source of income. When overdraft fees, ATM fees, and minimum balance fees are combined, bank profits increase. In 2014, Bank of America earned nearly $1 million in these fees alone. Across the country, income from these fees totaled 32.5 billion in 2013.
A standard Bank of America checking account requires an average daily balance of $1,500, a number which will change to a minimum requirement of $1,500 in October of this year. Without maintaining this minimum checking account balance, the monthly fee is $12. If Bank of America offered free checking accounts with no minimum balance, their annual income would drop drastically.
Although a checking account with no fees and no minimum balance may not be common, banking customers should not be discouraged. It is entirely possible to locate banks that offer no minimum balance checking.
Following these six tips to finding free checking accounts with no minimum balance will help propel you toward the best possible banking experience—one that doesn’t cost you extra money.
6 Tips to Find a Free Checking Account with No Minimum Balance
With the diversification of banking services, it may be difficult to find what banks offer free checking with no minimum balance. Having a clear and organized outlook is important. Our review has identified six simple tips to help you find a checking account with no fees and no minimum balance.
1. Make a Detailed List of Your Banking Needs
Knowing your personal needs and banking habits can go a long way in finding banks with free checking and no minimum balance. This includes taking a look at your banking history, specifically how you typically use your checking account.
Making this detailed list involves asking yourself the following questions:
- Will keeping a minimum balance in my checking account be constricting?
- What amount do I typically keep in my checking account each month?
- Does my checking account get more use than my savings?
- Can I save money by having a checking account with no fees and no minimum balance?
Additional questions to ask yourself may be whether a physical bank location is important in your personal banking experience. Banks with fewer physical locations are much more likely to provide free checking accounts with no minimum balance.
Each individual list of banking needs may fall underneath varying categories of complexity or simplicity. If bank fees are consistently plaguing your checking account, make avoiding these fees a strong commitment by looking for free checking accounts with no minimum balance.
Having a clear view of what you need from your checking account will help provide focus and allow you to easily filter out banks that charge additional money for minimum balance requirements.
2. Conduct Thorough Research
Consumer Affairs financial expert Mark Huffman says it best: “Bottom line, a checking account should not cost you money or require you to maintain a large balance. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for consumers who do a little homework.”
Conducting thorough research is a crucial part of finding banks with free checking and no minimum balance. This research can be done by looking at a specific bank or casting a wider net for nearby banks that offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance.
Banks that offer no minimum balance checking are likely to stand out by promoting their services. Utilizing online research can be a great tool toward researching banks with free checking and no minimum balance. Speaking with family members and friends to get banking referrals can also be a worthwhile, personal means of research.
Research can take time and dedication. Ultimately, the payoff for your concentrated time and effort can result in less stress, less hassle, and more money in your account by finding free checking accounts with no minimum balance.
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3. Read the Fine Print
It is important to refine your search not only to free checking accounts, but to free checking accounts with no minimum balance. Reading the fine print is crucial, as most banks offer exemptions for maintenance fees—but only through maintaining a minimum balance. No minimum balance checking often comes with specific terms.
At first glance, a banking advertisement for maintenance fee exemption may read as a free checking account with no minimum balance. In fact, these exemptions almost always include the possibility of hidden service fees and balance regulations.
For example, a basic checking account through JPMorgan Chase advertises free checking, but with specific terms. Chase offers to waive the $12 monthly service fees only if one of the following requirements is met:
- Direct deposit checks of at least $500
- A minimum daily balance of $1,500
- An average daily balance of $5,000 across all accounts
To explain checking account fees in greater detail, Chase offers a downloadable PDF. This is a great example of taking the next step in research to include the fine print. Whether looking online or speaking directly with a branch associate, having a detailed description of each checking account requirement is crucial.
Without reading the fine print, it is possible to overlook minimum balance checking fees. Taking every opportunity to read further into research will help to clearly identify banks with free checking and no minimum balance.
4. Enlist Help to Locate What Banks Offer Free Checking with No Minimum Balance
To supplement individual research and to help cut through fine print, a handful of companies exist to offer unique services to help consumers locate banks with free checking and no minimum balance. These service providers take expert opinions and research and provide easy access for banking customers.
For example, MagnifyMoney is an online service composed of bloggers, journalists, and financial and banking professionals. Their aim is to “promote transparency and financial empowerment” by knocking through fine print.
An important aspect of MagnifyMoney is their Price Checker email service, which is sent twice each month. Each email provides information comparing the highest and lowest rates and fees for checking and savings accounts through national banks. Signing up for their free email service immediately links to comprehensive reviews on what banks offer free checking with no minimum balance.
5. Be Flexible in Choosing Your Checking Account
Being flexible means remaining open to alternative options when searching for free checking accounts with no minimum balance. A vast majority of banks with free checking and no minimum balance exist as online entities without physical branches.
Not only do online banks have superior online banking apps amongst their services, but they have the unique benefit of cutting fees that traditional brick-and-mortar banks employ. Online banks are great options for those looking for banks with free checking and no minimum balance.
For example, Ally Bank offers a $0 minimum balance, and a $0 maintenance fee. MONEY Magazine has rated Ally Bank as the top online bank for five years in a row, highlighting their free checking accounts with no minimum balance.
Although online banks automatically offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance, customers sacrifice face-to-face interaction at branch locations. Still, with 24/7 customer service lines and enhanced online features, online banks are valuable options.
Not only is there fine print with online banks, no minimum-balance checking is nearly an industry standard. Banking online may be a nontraditional approach, but this flexibility allows easily access to free checking accounts with no minimum balance.
6. Have Honest and Clear Communication
Perhaps the most important step is to remain committed to your goal of finding free checking accounts with no minimum balance. This carries throughout each and every step, especially through the act of creating a checking account. Be sure to keep honest and clear communication when setting up a checking account with no minimum balance.
Effective communication regarding your personal banking needs is crucial when creating your account. It is important to stress that having a free checking account with no minimum balance is a priority. If you discover fine print or terms that look like minimum balance requirements, discuss them immediately.
Keep in mind that banks are fundamentally businesses, and banks with free checking and no minimum balance may be difficult to find. Ultimately, what will finalize your search is keeping honest and clear communication about your banking needs.
As banking has become more sophisticated, most traditional brick-and-mortar banks will continue to forego services like free checking accounts with no minimum balance in favor of mortgages, loans, and investments.
No minimum balance checking should not be a luxury—it should be a basic component of every checking account. With proper research and dedication, you can find a wealth of banks with free checking and no minimum balance to fit your banking needs.
For many consumers, finding free checking accounts with no minimum balance is still an important banking requirement. Following the six tips outlined in our review will help make finding the top-rated banks with free checking and no minimum balance an efficient and worthwhile process, keeping more money in your account where it belongs.
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