The fear in shifting away from free checking, of course, is that customers will walk out the door. What reasonable consumer would want to suddenly pay for something that they’ve become accustomed to getting for free? This fear is not completely unfounded, as consumers repeatedly tell us that they really, really like their free checking accounts (to use a technical research term). In RFG’s latest round of national consumer surveys, we asked consumers to indicate what factors might cause them to switch to another financial institution. The number one reason cited by consumers was a change in free checking. Forget about deposit rates, loan rates, NSF fees, online banking, ATM or branch locations. Consumers indicated that they don’t care about those things nearly as much as they value their free checking accounts. More precisely, 39 percent of consumers indicated that they would switch financial institutions if you messed with their free checking. Granted, it is one thing to check a box on a survey and an entirely different thing to actually move an account, but the results clearly show the value that consumers place on free checking. In this era of consumerism and anti-bank sentiment, it may be a risky endeavor to test their fortitude.