CNNMoney has put together a list of the 8 least-evil banks. What do they mean by least-evil? Since legislation passed not long ago to reign in bank fees and unfair practices, more and more free banking is disappearing and many banks have been implementing all sorts of fees to make up for lost revenue from the new laws. Some banks offer ways to avoid their fees but you have to jump through hoops to figure out how to qualify.
Why is this important? Bank fees can drain your account! You can easily find yourself paying a good amount of money in bank fees every month. According to a Wall Street Journal article (The New Bank Fees: How to Fight Back, June 19, 2010), the average fee for falling below the minimum balance on an interest-bearing account is $12.55 while the average overdraft fee was $29.58. Add to that the fact that banks will be looking to either limit debit card transactions or add fees to the transactions and you can see how it’s getting expensive to bank!
So CNNMoney found eight banks with no ATM fees, high-yield accounts, and free checking (a couple of which appear in my best free online checking accounts).
Here are CNNMoney’s 8 least-evil banks:
You can use any ATM for free as Ally reimburses any fees you may incur. There are also no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balances. In fact you can open an account with $0. Their accounts also offer up higher interest than most other banks so you can maximize your savings and your checking. To deposit money you need to either mail in checks (provided by Ally) or make a transfer from another bank account.
ING’s Electric Orange checking has no ATM fees when you use one from their network. They will mail out paper checks for you, offer up bill-pay, and you can make person-to-person to any person so long as you have their account number. ING also offer up high-yield checking and savings accounts.
This bank started out as a bank for military families but now is open to all. They offer checking with no minimum balance, no monthly maintenance fees, and free paper checks. For customers with military connections, you can make remote deposits via computer or cell phone.
Personally, I’ve heard only good things about USAA. I’m not an account holder but anyone I’ve seen mention them raves about their products.
Take a look at USAA checking.
Capital One is a “brick and mortar” bank, meaning they operate from physical store locations (the prior selections have been online banks). This is nice if you want a place where you can deal with a teller face-to-face. Their checking accounts are generally free of monthly maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements (exceptions after a year for those in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland). CNN Money notes that a downside is they only offer free ATM use in their network which is relatively small (roughly 2,000 ATM’s).
Alliant Credit Union
Located in Illinois, Alliant Credit Union is one of the largest credit unions in the U.S. and is open to everyone. They offer checking with no monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance requirement. they offer options for high-yield checking and have over 80,000 ATM’s to use free of charge within their network.
Though I can’t speak personally about this credit union, I’ve heard many great things about using a credit union for your banking.
PNC offers checking without monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements. ATM fees are free in their network of over 6,000 ATM’s. If you maintain a $2,000 balance then PNC will reimburse out-of-network ATM fees.
The Incredible Bank
No, this isn’t a bank out of a Pixar movie. Incredible Bank aims to have higher interest rates than other online banks. Their checking is free unless you need a paper statement. ATM’s are free or reimbursed when you are charged from other networks. To deposit money you need to mail in checks or transfer money from another bank account.
This brokerage offers a free online checking account to those who open a brokerage account. There’s no monthly maintenance fee, no minimum balance requirement, and no currency exchange fee for ATM’s overseas (nice to have if you travel out of the country often). They also allow you to use any ATM with no fees charged and will reimburse you for other network fees.
CNNMoney also mention Fidelity’s checking account, also available to those with a brokerage account with Fidelity. (They snuck in a ninth bank).
Personally, I’m surprised PerkStreet Financial isn’t listed. They also offer free checking, have free paper checks, and offer a cash rewards debit card which is very rare and none of the other banks listed offer on a regular basis (I’ve seen ING’s Electric Orange checking with promotional cash back rewards a few times but not as a standard).