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  1. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Well to those that bank at USAA, the answers to these questions all point to 100% fee free. They actually reimburse ATM fees and do free checks with full address (and web-billpay too).

    It is amazing what a bank can do for the customer when they aren’t incorporated and don’t have to serve shareholders.

  2. sleze69 says:

    But USAA is only available to active military and their families.

  3. bonzombiekitty says:

    *pet peeve again*

    “PIN number” is redundant!

  4. SaveMeJeebus says:

    @sleze69: And you would be surprised how many still bank with BofA…

  5. Hanke says:

    I would fully expect that even with a free account, a consumable item such as checks would need to be purchased after you run out of the first batch they give you.

  6. nctrnlboy says:

    My bank is commerce bank (the midwest chain in IL,KS,MO..etc.etc..) No fees, free checks etc.etc.. I refuse to do business with a bank that nickle & dimes you with fees & other BS.

  7. CumaeanSibyl says:

    My student free checking account charged a minimum balance fee. Given how little money students usually have, this seems counterintuitive to me — unless you’re trying to get them to overdraw, in which case it makes perfect sense.

  8. skittlbrau says:

    @nctrnlboy: Commerce Bank is headquartered in NJ, if we’re thinking of the one that gives you biscuits for your dog and counts change for free.

    I love Commerce Bank.

  9. Hanke says:

    @baa:
    There are two different Commerce Banks, one in the midwest, one in the mid-atlantic and Florida. Found that out when I couldn’t quite rememebr the URL.

  10. leftistcoast says:

    Back when I started undergrad in the mid-90s, I opened a ‘free student checking’ account with SeaFirst. No minimum balance, no fees, etc. Well, BoA bought SeaFirst within a year or so of my opening of the account but BoA honored, and continues to honor, the terms of that original account…which is pretty friggin’ awesome.

    The only glitch, up until this year at least, has been that BoA has yet to fully integrate all of their networks. So, I was always forced to go into see a teller when I wanted to make a deposit when I lived in Atlanta and now Boston. Also, wire transfers are a real pain because they pretty much have to wait until the west coast wakes up so they can talk to someone that knows how the system works on their end. However, in the last couple of months, I’ve been able to make deposits at an ATM, which makes me happy.

    The funniest bit is that in both Boston and ATL, whenever I talk to tellers or the bank managers they ask me why I don’t just close out my old WA account and open one with them. My response: Two reasons. 1) You guys are a national bank…I shouldn’t have to close out my local account; you should integrate your damn systems. 2) There is no way in hell you’re going to let me open a new account with the same terms as my old one. They never like to hear #1 but, when I tell them the back story, they completely understand #2…

  11. saikofish says:

    I’ve recently switched my checking account to Investor Checking at Schwab, and closing my account at BofA. So far so good: free checking, free checks, no minimum amount, ATM fee reimbursing, interest on balance (4.16%), no fees to use a debit card. And to top it all off someone there called me yesterday just to see if I had any questions! Needless to say I’m very surprised.

    Problem is depositing checks isn’t easy, you have to mail it in as there’s no local Schwab Bank branches (do they even exist??) and you have to mail it in. But they gave me a handful of postage-paid envelopes to do so, and I think that’s just a minor inconvenience given how infrequently I have checks to cash, and how their service is by far heads and shoulders over BofA.

    Besides, unlimited free ATM! Can’t beat that.

  12. rcsfca says:

    I bank with The Mechanics Bank – this bank has branches throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Although they are small, they offer checking accounts that a for the most part free (they require a direct deposit or for you to pay 5 bills a month through their online banking [and they don't charge for online banking]), however unlike USAA that only reimburses you up to $15 dollars in foreign ATM charges, The Mechanics Bank does not have a limit on the amount of foreign ATM charges that they will reimburse for you (I average about $40 in fees that get reimburse to me). In addition, their bankers (including tellers) are mostly full-time employess – this allow them to keep the same people for a very long time. For example I got my auto loan approved by the same guy who has been approving my parents auto loans since the late 80′s. Their customer service in inpecable and when you call their 800 number you actually get a person not some machine like USAA. I highly recommend this bank.

  13. Nick says:

    If you have loans or mortgages with certain banks, check with them about free services. I have a mortgage with BofA, and I have an entirely free “advantage” account (their premium account–comes with a bunch of stuff I don’t use). I haven’t paid a bank fee in years.

  14. jmschn says:

    I bank at Wells Fargo…never dealt with nickel and diming from them as i understood and avoided all the criterias that would charge me a fee. easy as that.

  15. Clobberella says:

    @rcsfca:

    What machines are you talking about at USAA? I’ve never had a problem getting a person there. They have pretty much the only customer service I’ve ever dealt with that doesn’t make me want to hang myself.

  16. thebaconissleeping says:

    We have been using US Bank for almost 3 years with no problems. Our first order of check was free, but that is something I expect to pay for anyway.

  17. alicetheowl says:

    I can’t figure out what’s wrong with half of these. I don’t like hauling my butt to the bank every Friday; I’d RATHER have direct deposit. And since when was anything but the first box of checks free?

    I have a free checking out with Capital Bank of North Carolina, and I read the terms carefully before I signed up for it. They give us 5% interest on the account, and refund all ATM fees outside-network ATMs charge us at the end of each month. (We haven’t had to use this courtesy in MONTHS, because we know where the free ATMs are.)

    There are limits on it, of course: you have to get a paperless statement (good! less paper to clutter up my filing cabinet!), you have to do direct deposit (good! I LIKE direct deposit!), and you have to go in for fewer than five face-to-face transactions. That one is rendered moot by having direct deposit, by phone calls not counting toward the total, and by the fact that I only go to the bank to deposit non-work money (like refunds and money paid back from friends), which happens, at the most, twice a month.

    All that happens if I don’t meet the terms is I don’t earn interest that month.

  18. capturedshadow says:

    Wamu Free Checking gives me free checks, but I can only request one box per day. It should be enough. No interest on my balance is bad, $3 to use an overseas ATM is bad (US BANK only charges $2) but since I have not had any overdrafts there have not been any fees.

  19. synergy says:

    I don’t understand people having a checking account that takes their money. I know Bank of America gets a bad rap on Consumerist, but I’ve yet to have problems with them in the nearly 4 years I’ve had them. The only thing I need to do is one direct deposit per month and since that’s my paycheck and I WANT direct deposit, that’s fine with me. I have yet to get charged a fee by them except for the, like, 2 times I overdrafted and that’s totally my fault. Hasn’t happened again.

  20. a_m_m_b says:

    @SaveMeJeebus: and aren’t chained to lots of brick-n-mortar locations.

    @sleze69: current & prior military; plus children. check your family tree. or
    heck, work there as membership is open to employees, to.

    @rcsfca: if you don’t like the VRU, hit 0 for a rep.

    disclaimer: yeah, I work there & heck yeah they’re
    a great bank & employer :)

  21. gtr225 says:

    @baa: In the New York area Commerce Bank recently made changes to their “free” checking accounts. After 1 year you have to maintain a minimum balance of $100 to avoid a $15 fee every month.

  22. dcartist says:

    “courtesy overdraft protection fee” on VISA branded ATM cards is a multibillion racketeering industry on the part of the banks.

    They let you overdraft, and refuse to decline your card if its overdrafted, and typically screw people for $150 or more ($30/transaction… no warning on overdraft, even if its a small amount, until your overdraft hits some ridiculously large amount).

    Then after a furious complaint process, their bankers are instructed to offer 50% of the money they stole from you back to you.

    It’s an ultrahigh interest usury loan, but they call it a “fee” and are exempt from typical usury laws. Most banks do this now. Racketeers, I tell you. They claim its a courtesy to NOT notify you at the time your visa card is run… as if a consumer would prefer to be charged $32, multiple times in a day, rather than be “embarrassed” to learn they are overdrafted:

    [www.responsiblelending.org]

    Just absolute SCUM.

  23. dcartist says:

    I first learned of this scam a while back when Bestbuy accidentally double charged me for a $500 item…. then corrected it 4 days later.

    I ended up with several hundred in overdraft fees because every time I ordered a meal at ARby’s for $7, I was being charged $32 additional dollars. Even after I pointed out that it was not my error, they made me complain up the chain of command, and eventually offered me half the money back… at which point they only paid me back the full amount after I threatened to take all my business banking elsewhere. And this was despite the fact that I had never actually overdrafted a nickel the whole time.

    I feel sorry for all the college students and people who live paycheck to paycheck, who are sucked into a cycle of debt by this kind of crap. Rich stealing from poor. Legislation to fix it is long overdue, but it will probably be 5 years before we finally see this $12 billion+ injustice corrected.