Free checking accounts still exist … you just need to know where to look

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Free checking accounts still exist … you just need to know where to look

It’s not just Bank of America customers who are shelling out extra cash in fees.

Earlier this month, Bank of America switched certain customers into accounts that require a $12 monthly fee unless they have a direct monthly deposit of $250 or more or maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $1,500.

“This is one of the lowest qualifiers in the industry and a great value,” said Betty Riess, a spokeswoman for the bank.

But customers were decidedly unhappy — as of the latest tally, a Change.org petition protesting the move had 50,000 signers.

For those grieving the loss of free or low-cost checking, this is nothing new; banks have been pushing up what they charge customers for years.

“The landscape is still one where fees are rising,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst. “I don’t expect that’s going to change anytime soon.”

However, “the availability of free checking with no strings attached still exists,” he said.

In fact, 38 percent of banks and 84 percent of the nation’s largest credit unions offer a standalone free checking account (meaning checking accounts with no monthly service fee), according to Bankrate.

Yet Americans are still paying $15 billion in fees, including monthly service charges, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has said.

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