Through the grapevine, we’ve been catching whispers about—do we dare say—the end of free checking. Our worries were confirmed and clarified by an illustrative article in The Wall Street Journal.
“Customers will likely be required to pay new monthly maintenance fees on the most basic accounts that don’t generate a lot of activity.” This, along with other new fees on banking services, will generate money from accounts that are currently considered ‘unprofitable’ for banks.
As it now stands, free checking is a customer favorite because there are no minimum balances, monthly fees, or costs for basic services. For a better understanding, see LearnVest’s checklist on understanding different checking account features.
BEFORE your head starts spinning and you decide to close out your entire checking account—wait! We’ve broken down how these changes could affect you, and what you can do about it.
As a customer, you need to be aware of your bank’s policy. No matter where you have a checking account, contact your bank to find out what changes (if any) it will make.
Understand what the heck it all means.
Different banks are going to have different policies. But typically, “customers will have to maintain certain account balances or frequently use other banking services, such as credit and debit cards, automated teller machines and online accounts.”
Time to make some changes.
If the new fee policies are going to impact you, this doesn’t mean it’s time to panic. In our experience, there are generally ways to get around a minimum balance requirement— other than those mentioned in The Journal— such as direct deposit. By setting up direct deposit, your paycheck will automatically be transferred into your account. Instead of the end of free checking meaning extra fees for you, perhaps all it means is the beginning of direct deposit?