Most Americans Still Have Free Checking Accounts

September 11, 2013, Written By John H. Oldshue
Most Americans Still Have Free Checking Accounts

When the economic downturn hit five years ago, many analysts predicted that free checking accounts would become a thing of the past. After all, regulations such as the CARD Act and Dodd-Frank bill cut some of the revenue streams of financial institutions, and many people thought banks would have to make up for this revenue with additional fees.

But the majority of Americans are still enjoying a free checking account.

According to a new survey conducted by the American Bankers Association, 55 percent of bank customers are not being charged a fee for their checking account.

The figures from the annual survey have hovered around that number for the past few years: 59 percent had a free checking account in 2011, and 53 percent in the 2010 survey.

On the flip side, the findings show that almost half of Americans are now paying for a checking account. In fact, 14 percent are paying $10 or more each month.

Here are some tips to possibly avoid a fee on your checking account:

  • Shop around for a different bank if your current bank continues to charge you a monthly fee on your account.
  • Be aware of your minimum balance. Many banks offer free checking if you keep at least a certain balance in your account. Make sure you are above this threshold.
  • Sign up for email and text alerts to update you when your balance dips below a certain level.
  • Check into making direct deposits. Some banks offer free checking if your paycheck is automatically deposited.
  • Have multiple accounts at your bank. Your bank wants as much of your business as possible and may offer free services for multiple accounts.
  • Use your bank’s ATM machine when making withdrawals.

The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted in July for the ABA by Ipsos Public Affairs, an independent market research firm.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of September 11, 2013. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.

About John H. Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers credit card rate issues for
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