How Free Is A Free Checking Account?

Recently Chase Bank effectively ended free checking accounts for old WaMu customers by... making them not free anymore. Chase accounts wil now have a $12 monthly fee attached to them unless the user:

  • has one direct deposit of $500 or more
  • keeps a minimum daily balance of $1,500
  • keeps an average balance of $5,000 or more in a several deposit and/or investment accounts or
  • incurs $25 in qualifying fees per month

 Thats right - the last one means that if you rack up $25 in fees, then your $12 monthly fee will be waived. Joy!

Chase is hardly the first big bank to do this - in the past few months, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citibank have all amped up fees and conditions which make their free checking accounts not so free.

When reached for comment about this new development, a Chase PR person had this to say to The Consumerist:

"What we're trying to do is reward customers for giving us more of their business, in terms of multiple accounts, or deeper business, in terms of balances or direct deposits."

Full disclosure: I actually have an old Chase account (college was a wild time, ya'll) and even though I've used it about twice in the past two years, I'm upset about this.

A recent survey by The Raddon Report shows that free checking accounts are HUGE incentives for people to switch financial institutions.

In a world where "Unlimited" means *Not Really, LOL, JK and "Free" means *Free Only If You Follow These Very Specific Parameters, I think it would be great for credit unions to step and showcase the transparency of our mission.

Let the world know, we don't have any conditions! Our free is free, and our unlimited is certaintly not limited.

Is your credit union bucking the bank trend by continuing to offer free, transparent service? Let us know in the comments!

DeAndre