Anytime I have a conversation with somebody about banking, it typically turns out the same; I end up chuckling at the similar responses. “I remember when my bank gave away free toasters. I remember when I didn’t have to pay for checks. I remember when I could receive a loan on just a handshake.” As much as I would love to have each of these remembered features back, I want everyone to consider one thing: look where it got us.
Apparently something wasn’t working…
Believe it or not there was a time before free checking accounts. The concept didn’t actually originate until 1982. Bigger banks didn’t jump on the bandwagon until the 90’s. So why after decades of understandably “paying for a service” are people so resistant to the idea of “paying for a service?” Over the years (in my opinion), living has gotten a lot easier (in large part because of banking). Spending, budgeting, saving, and paying bills have never been easier. I wouldn’t mind paying for this convenience. Having said that…
Free Checking Is Here To Stay…Sorta
As long as you’re not a complete donk, your checking account will not cost you anything. I chose my language carefully there. Your checking account may never be free ever again, but it probably won’t cost you anything. How does that make sense?
Regulation DD, Truth In Savings, prohibits institutions from using the word “free” if something is not in fact free. Since a lot of banks are requiring a direct deposit of $500 or more, certain levels of activity or a minimum balance – they aren’t to be advertised as free (although the customer may not pay anything).
How Can You Ensure You Won’t Get Charged?
1. Receive online statements
Everyone should receive online statements. If not to reduce clutter, than for security reasons.
2. Receive direct deposit
Who actually enjoys going to the bank to cash or deposit a payroll check?
3. Use online billpay
I only use this feature for a few bills. My utility providers began charging $3 to accept credit card payments over the phone.
4. Set up automatic transfers from checking to savings
I typically transfer random amounts to my savings (my paychecks vary); otherwise I would set up an automatic transfer.
5. Use your credit card for everything!
No explanation needed here. I’ve made my case for credit cards.
Using different combinations of the above SHOULD keep your banking *free.
Readers: Do you pay for banking? Assuming you don’t, would you?