Your Bank Took Away Free Checking. Now What?

By Rachel Slifka on 2 March 2018 0 comments

You are a financially responsible adult who has been a loyal customer of the same bank for years. Now you find that you've been hit with a random checking account fee. What gives?

If you're like most people, you keep enough in your checking account to pay the bills, but you don't store your life savings there. Unfortunately for you, many big banks are changing how they do things. Checking accounts that used to be free are now being charged a monthly service fee if they don't meet certain criteria, like minimum balance and direct deposit amounts per month.

So what are your options? If you've been hit with a monthly checking account fee, here are some things you can do. (See also: 5 Signs It's Time to Find a New Bank)

Ask your bank for an explanation

If you're finding new fees being tacked onto your bank account statement, you will want to go directly to your bank. Ask them what the fees are and how you can avoid them. If you've been a longtime customer, you may even have leverage to have these fees waived. In any case, find out what is required to avoid these fees altogether in the future.

At the very least, your bank should be helpful in working with you to solve this issue. Be sure they spell out exactly what criteria they require for a checking account and what charges they'll make you pay if you fail to meet their requirements. (See also: Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees?)

Utilize direct deposit

To avoid a monthly checking account fee, your bank may require you to have a minimum amount directly deposited into your account every month. For example, this minimum may be $250 per month.

Banks like direct deposit because when you have money regularly deposited into your account, you are less likely to overdraft. So long as you have a steady job and your employer utilizes direct deposit, this should be a relatively simple fix. You can ask your human resources department whether you are eligible for direct deposit, or if you can change your current setup.

Keep up that monthly minimum

Does your bank require a monthly checking account minimum? If so, you will need to keep that minimum amount available in order to avoid additional fees.

Keep in mind, if the minimum is very high, your money could possibly be put to better use. Money in a checking account likely isn't earning very high interest, if it's earning anything at all. You could earn a better return by investing that money or using it to pay off high-interest debt.

Take a look and consider your options. If the checking account minimum is too high for your taste, you may want to consider finding a new bank.

Switch banks

Changing banks can be a hassle, but it's one that can be very worth your while. If your current bank is charging you more fees than it's worth, it's time to make a switch. There are still plenty of banks out there currently offering free checking accounts, many of which even earn interest. You have other options. Don't settle for a bank that is not meeting your needs. (See also: Switch to a Better Bank in 5 Easy Steps)

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Your Bank Took Away Free Checking. Now What?

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