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credit & debt

Where to Get Free Checking

Some of these no-strings-attached accounts even pay you interest.

Free checking is getting harder to come by. Only 59% of the financial institutions surveyed by Moebs Services at the beginning of 2014 offered free checking without conditions, compared with 82% in 2009. At many banks, you may be asked to jump through certain hoops, such as setting up direct deposit.

Still, we found several attractive, no-strings-attached checking accounts that may even pay you interest. Capital One 360 Checking has no monthly fees or minimum-balance requirements and pays 0.2% to 0.8%, depending on your balance. Plus, you can deposit checks remotely by using a mobile app or your computer to send the bank images of the checks. You pay no fee for withdrawals from ATMs in the Allpoint and Capital One networks.

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The free Ally Bank Interest Checking requires no minimum balance, pays 0.6% on balances of $15,000 or more (0.1% on lower balances) and includes remote check deposit. Ally reimburses fees that other in­stitutions charge when you withdraw money from their ATMs. Alliant Credit Union’s Free Checking requires no minimum balance, and you can withdraw money from more than 80,000 ATMs in participating networks without a surcharge. (Make a donation of at least $10 to Foster Care to Success to become an Alliant member.)

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Sometimes free checking is a perk with brokerage accounts. For Fidelity customers, the Fidelity Cash Management Account requires no monthly fee or minimum balance, reimburses ATM fees charged worldwide and offers mobile check deposit. Balances recently earned 0.07%. The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account has the same features but pays 0.1%.

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