This week Bankrate released its 2010 Checking Study, and it turns out a number of banks are phasing out free checking by introducing minimum balances or monthly maintenance fees.
This shift away from free checking may be due in part to new Fed rules requiring customers to opt in for overdraft protection on debit cards and new limits on how much banks can charge merchants for processing debit card transactions. Being that overdraft fees and debit interchange fees are among the largest sources of revenue for banks these days, it’s not unreasonable to expect banks to make some changes to the way they do business.
That said, getting rid of free checking might not be the best way to make up the difference. A recent study commissioned by the financial services firm USAA found free checking is really, really important to consumers.