August 15 has passed and the Reg E Amendment has impacted bank revenues less than expected. Yet, the media drumbeat of “free checking is dead” continues. Of late, publications like the Philadelphia Inquirer have stated, “No-strings free checking is now very hard to find.” In addition, the Miami Herald said, “The free account is a dinosaur.” TheNew York Post also published an article that shows the impact on checking-related fees consumers have seen recently.
For community banks, “free checking is dead” spells opportunity. On November 1, 2010, the South Florida Sun-Sentinelreported, “More banks drop free checking as they take a hit on fees.” The article provides the following recommendations to consumers: “Sign up for direct deposit; do more banking online; use your debit card more; link with other accounts; and maybe, switch to smaller banks or credit unions where free checking is more common(emphasis added).”