Free Checking With Benefits


Find Free Checking With Benefits

It’s getting more difficult to find free checking. Here are some workarounds.

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Checking accounts that charge no monthly fee are getting harder to come by. In the first half of 2019, the number of credit unions offering free checking accounts fell 59%, and the number of banks with free checking dropped 37%, according to economic-research firm Moebs Services. Now only about 20% of banks and credit unions still offer free checking. The reason for the decline? Free checking usually isn’t profitable for the institutions that offer it, says CEO Mike Moebs.

SEE ALSO: The Best Bank for You, 2019

Luckily, finding a free checking account isn’t difficult if you’re willing to bank online—and you can even earn interest. For several years, the free account from Bank5 Connect has offered a 0.76% yield, and the minimum balance required to earn it is a reasonable $100. Plus, the bank reimburses up to $15 a month in surcharges from out-of-network ATM operators. The free account from Alliant Credit Union yields 0.45% on all balances if you receive electronic statements and make one electronic deposit monthly, and it reimburses $20 monthly in ATM fees. When you join the credit union, Alliant will pay a $5 membership fee to the charity Foster Care to Success on your behalf and make a complimentary $5 deposit into an Alliant savings account for you.

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Free accounts for frequent spenders. If you use your debit card regularly, consider an account that rewards you for it. Discover’s checking account offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month, and the bank has eliminated nearly all account fees. If you have $2,500 in monthly direct deposits or keep a $2,500 minimum balance, the Rewards Checking account from Radius Bank pays an unlimited 1% back on signature-based debit-card purchases (transactions verified with a PIN don’t qualify). In addition, you’ll earn 1% interest on a balance of at least $2,500 or 1.2% on a balance of $100,000 or more, and ATM-fee rebates are unlimited.