Top 8 Ways to Find the Best Free Checking Account Banks
Checking accounts are one of the most commonplace financial products. But as banking has become more sophisticated and offer more services, it has led to a proliferation of fees. As a result, consumers are eager to find free bank accounts.
Technically, a free bank account may not be free at all. Banks with free checking normally carry fees customers can incur if, for example, they go over a certain number of transactions each month.
Free checking account banks may not charge a monthly maintenance fee, but they can certainly charge a customer for every transaction beyond a predetermined number. Banks with free checking accounts should be monitored carefully to ensure they stay free.
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This article will provide some tips for finding banks that offer free checking and how to choose your free bank accounts.
Sure, some free checking banks may advertise their free bank account in a straightforward fashion, but others may have theirs hidden as bundle deals or only make them available to customers who purchase other products. These tips will give you the guidance you need to be on the lookout for such offerings.
1. Run a Google Search on Banks with Free Checking Accounts
Forgive us for starting with the most basic piece of advice, but it is worth stating. Often, the free banking promotions are out there in plain sight, but people make the search more complicated than it needs to be.
Opening your search engine of choice and typing in “banks with free checking” may solve your problem faster than you can fill out the application form.
Searching for free checking account banks online may also make you aware of financial institutions you had not previously considered. Those who are not firmly attached to the idea of a physical branch may discover free online bank accounts that suit their needs just fine.
2. Consider Credit Unions Instead of Banks for Free Bank Accounts
Credit unions have become a terrific alternative for those who are unhappy with traditional financial institutions, but who need a safe place to park their money that is backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). If you are looking for free banking, credit unions may be the way to go.
Credit unions operate differently from banks. For one, they consider their customers “co-owners.” Any profits that the credit union makes are reinvested into the credit union (that is, its customers) through lower or eliminated fees and the like. This means that free bank accounts are much more likely at credit unions.
While credit unions have their customers firmly in mind, banks are not only thinking about their customers. They are ultimately beholden to their shareholders, and this is what management is thinking about when making decisions about products and services.
A bank is a for-profit institution, and as a result, it is committed to making money. It does this by charging fees and making money through loans and deposits from its customers. As expected, free banking is not a very sustainable thing in such an environment.
In addition to the expectation that banks show a profit to their shareholders, banks also have marketing and advertising costs, in addition to other management costs. This is usually on a nationwide or even international scale.
Credit unions intentionally keep themselves small and community based, meaning that they can save on such promotional costs and put that additional money toward things like free bank accounts.
Those looking for free bank accounts from a credit union have a number of way to find them. They can:
- Run a search on local credit unions
- Check with their employer to see if they qualify for membership in a profession-based credit union
- Check to see if their family members (such as a spouse or parent) are part of a credit union that extends eligibility to them
- Check if their membership in a charitable organization makes them eligible for specific credit unions
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3. Open a Capital One 360 Free Online Bank Account for the Big Bank Feel Without Big Bank Fees
Free online bank accounts are growing in popularity. With so much of our banking happening online, it makes sense that some companies have decided to offer products that completely cut out the need for physical branches (and the administrative costs that contribute to service fees).But some people looking for banks with free checking may still desire that big bank feel and institutional support.
When it comes to banks with free checking accounts, Capital One’s 360 account is one of the most popular options. It offers over 40,000 free ATMs nationwide, online and mobile banking access 24/7, and absolutely no fees or required minimum balances. Additionally, you earn interest on your balance in your online checking.
You can easily carry out everyday transactions with this free bank account, including bill payments and sending cash. Unlike other free checking banks, Capital One 360 Checking comes with a free MasterCard debit card.
4. Dig for Banks That Pay YOU to Open an Account as an Alternative to Free Checking Banks
Wondering what banks offer free checking? The good news is that there are many banks that offer free checking; it is just a matter of finding them. The better news is that there are some banks that will pay you to open an account with them. T
hat’s right. There are banks that may not be free checking banks but that will give you a cash incentive for deciding to become a customer, effectively mitigating some of the cost.
Chase Bank has a promotion running until October 15, 2016, that offers potential customers a pretty penny for opening a checking account with them (even if they are not one of the banks that offer free checking). Those who open a Chase Total Checking Account and set up a direct deposit can gain a cash incentive of $150. While the account does carry a monthly fee, certain conditions can waive the fee, like a certain amount of direct deposits or a maintained minimum balance.
Chase QuickDeposit also provides customers with a terrific option for quick deposits. Customers can simply snap a pic of their check and hit send, all from the convenience of their mobile device.
5. Check for Promotions at Your Existing Bank for a Free Bank Account
A checking account is one of the most basic banking products, but banks are eager to entice you into signing up for more products and services. This is how they make money. Free checking account banks are not there to offer you a freebie for nothing. They are hoping that in addition to parking your money there, you will stick around and sign up for other products.
Banks often offer promotions to encourage people to sign up for additional products, like savings accounts, investment products, or credit products. Sometimes, these promotions are linked to products that customers likely already have. Banks carry fees of around $8 – $12, give or take.
If you are wondering what banks offer free checking, you may find the idea of a rebate just as attractive. Banks will often offer to charge you the monthly maintenance fee and then automatically refund the money if you sign up for an investment product, activate a credit card, or even do something as simple as set up a regular direct deposit for a certain amount.
It is an alternative (and attractive) answer to the question, “What banks offer free checking?” Research different bank promotions and even ask your teller to see if the option is available.
6. Check Out USAA for a Free Bank Account If You Have a Connection to the Military
USAA is one of those handy free checking account banks, but it is only available to veterans, active military members, and their families. This is one of the banks with free checking that offers free bank accounts with no deposit, meaning there is no required minimum balance.
The beauty of a free bank account with no deposit is that you do not have to worry about losing the free status when you don’t have a certain amount in your checking account.
Some free checking account banks require checking account holders to have a specific amount of money in their account to continue paying no maintenance fees. USAA is one of the banks with free checking that also offer free ATM access across the country, free bill payments, and free direct deposits.
7. Do Not Rule Out Online Banks with Free Checking, Like Ally Bank
If the idea of a bank that is purely online does not throw you off, consider opening an account with Ally Bank. Ally Bank is one of the free checking account banks that offers great customer service and attractive free bank account features.
It also falls under the category of free bank accounts with no deposit; there is no minimum deposit required to open an account with Ally. Banks with free checking and no minimum are an especially useful option for those who are cash-strapped but need to open a bank account in order to deposit checks.
But Ally goes beyond being one of the banks with free checking and no minimum. It has become exceptionally popular among users of online banking for a number of reasons, its free bank accounts being one of them.
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Since Ally does not have to spend money on maintaining physical branches, it can afford to offer cheap or free bank accounts. This also makes it possible for Ally Bank to be one of the banks with free checking and no minimum.
Individuals who are comfortable with technology, not hung up on the idea of visiting a neighborhood branch, and who use ATMs often would be the perfect Ally Bank users.
In addition to being known as one of the free checking account banks, Ally Bank is known for its exceptional customer service. This is expected for most banks — even banks with free checking — but it is a dealbreaker when it comes to online banks since you will be relying on a lot of over the phone or online communication for your customer service and banking inquiries. Their customer service is available 24/7.
There are no monthly maintenance fees with Ally Bank checking accounts, and as mentioned, there are no monthly minimums. Each month, customers are reimbursed for up to $10 of their third-party banking fees. They have access to over 43,000 ATMs. Customers also earn interest on their free bank account with Ally.
A balance under $15,000 in your Ally free bank account earns 0.10% APY, and balances over $15,000 earn 0.60% APY. Checks can be deposited remotely, and you can send money to others with Popmoney the same way you can with money transfer apps like Venmo.
The only downside to the Ally free bank account is that you cannot deposit cash.
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8. Look for Free Checking Account Banks That Offer Lucrative Interest on Your Balance
As mentioned above, a free online bank account will be able to offer more bang for its (non-existent) buck than a free bank account from a physical bank.
This is because there are more administrative costs associated with running a physical bank; therefore, the fees need to be higher in order to make up for those costs.
Bank5 offers a very high APY on its checking account. This is one of the banks with free checking that offers on its checking account:
- No monthly maintenance fee
- Free online banking/billpay/eStatements
- Free mobile banking
- UChoose Debit Rewards program
- Free first order of basic checks
- Free ATMs anywhere, anytime
Balances over $100 earn an APY of 0.76 percent, a significantly more competitive number than many physical banks. It is even more competitive that Ally Bank’s attractive APY. As a result, Bank5 has positioned itself as one of the banks with free checking that also allows customers to make money in the process.
There Are So Many Different Kinds of Banks With Free Checking — Start Researching!
Checking accounts have evolved over the long and storied history of banking. Originally, they offered a way to safely store vast amounts of money to eventually write checks against. Now, they have evolved to become a way to shop online, earn interest, and of course, use a debit card.
As the physical nature of banks change and more and more services move online, the amount of money banks charge in fees has the potential to decline as well.
Online banking, electronic money transfers, and online shopping are the way of the future, and traditional financial institutions will quickly evolve to provide the same speed and pricing as these free online bank accounts. While it may require a bit of research, there are free bank accounts available. Outline your financial needs and start searching for the checking account that works best for you.
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