Are You Paying to Have a Checking Account?

According to Bankrate.com the percentage of banks offering free checking with no strings attached fell to 37 percent in 2015.

A total of 95 percent of the non-interest-bearing accounts Bankrate surveyed were either free or waive monthly maintenance fees for account holders who meet certain requirements, such as keeping a minimum balance or, most commonly, making regular direct deposits.

Unfortunately, according to the survey, “those who don’t meet those requirements for free checking are now paying higher fees as well. The average monthly maintenance fee posted a double-digit gain in this year’s survey, rising 11% to a new high of $5.86 (about $6).”

That means the average is now about $72/year to have a checking account if you don’t qualify for a free account. My advice is to find a way to get it for free. The best option is to do direct deposits or maintain a minimum monthly balance to qualify for the free account. If those aren’t possible, shop around for an account with a lower fee.

Although many large banks have abandoned free checking, a lot of small banks, credit unions, and online banks still offer it.

It is sad but unfortunately true that it is expensive to be poor. Those who can least afford to pay for a checking account are likely charged the most. If you cannot find a free checking account service, consider keeping your money at home in a fire-proof safe and carry your budget in physical envelopes to pay in cash. In that way, you become your own bank account.