If you’re looking for ways to improve your checking account options, there are a number of different possibilities. One option many people have turned to so they can tighten their budget is free checking accounts. It’s becoming more and more common for banks to allow people to open an account without paying a monthly maintenance fee, allowing individuals to start checking without paying any money every month. If you’re looking into the best free checking accounts, here are four things to keep in mind about the switch.
1. Free Checking Accounts Often Provide Fewer Fees Overall
When a checking account is advertising itself as having free checking, they’re typically aware that customers are looking at the account because they don’t want to pay extra to have an account. That means they may end up cutting down on other fees as well, including overdraft fees, ATM fees, and other fees that are often associated with checking accounts.
2. Free Checking Accounts May Not Have Extra Benefits Like Cash Back Programs
On the other hand, you may find that while there are fewer fees associated with free checking accounts, there may also be fewer benefits. Oftentimes, fees are one of the ways that banks make their money, and some of that money comes back to you in the form of certain benefits, which may include options like cash back programs. It’s certainly possible to find free checking accounts that offer these things, but it’s important to remember that these extra benefits may not be available with free accounts.
3. Free Checking Accounts Are Often Online-Only Accounts
This can be either a pro or a con, depending on your level of tech-savviness and what you’re hoping to get from a free checking account. Online-only banks, as the name suggests, are banks that have no physical presence, only an online presence. Free checking accounts are often online-only, as the online-only organization allows these banks to reduce their overhead. If you don’t need in-person services, online-only accounts can be a great option.
4. Free Checking Accounts May Still Have a Minimum Opening Balance
A minimum opening balance is the dollar amount you have to deposit when you first open an account in order to establish the account with the bank. Often, free checking accounts only have a $50 to $100 minimum opening balance if they have one at all. However, it’s still important to be aware of this, as if you’re just starting out, you might need an account with a $0 opening balance requirement.
A free checking account can be extremely beneficial to people who are looking to cut down on how much they’re spending overall. If you’re not using your checking account very much, but you have a $12 monthly maintenance fee, you can save $144 per year by switching that account to a free checking account. Just make sure you know these important things about free checking accounts so you’re not blindsided by anything that comes up.