Banks Requiring Higher Balances To Avoid Fees

Bankrate has some depressing news: the balance requirements on interest accounts are skyrocketing.

Since last year’s survey, the average balance requirement to avoid fees on an interest account jumped almost 25 percent, from $2,660.49 to $3,316.60. Imagine keeping more than $3,300 in a low-yielding account, just to avoid fees!

Ew! The good news is that you can still get a free checking account, but it won’t pay interest. There are good options out there, it’ll just take a bit of shopping around. Don’t leave your money in a low-interest account just to avoid fees unless you have a darn good reason for doing so.

Avoiding interest-account fees costly [Bankrate]


Edit Your Comment

  1. rtwigg says:

    Want up to 5% APY checking interest with no minimum balance, free bill pay, and no fees?


    Screw the other bastards!

  2. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    No, get E*TRADE. If you have $5k, you’ll get 4% interest checking, free checks FOREVER, free ATM fee rebates (unlimited I believe, but don’ take my word for it), free debit card (of course), free online banking, and plus they have quite a few locations in the US.

    If not, you can get the regular checking plus complete savings at 5.05% interest (the rate that DIDN’T go down since the rate cut…unlike ING, who cut its rates all but 20 minutes after the announcement).

  3. hn333 says:

    I find this suspect since this survey was sponsored by ING DIRECT. Not that ING DIRECT is bad, I have a savings account with them. But suspect just the same; when I had a savings account with Wachovia (about three months ago) the minimum balance to avoid fees was only $300.

    This sounds more like a press release than a survey.

  4. horned_frog says:

    usually you can also avoid having to maintain a minimum balance by signing up for direct deposit. my employer allows me to setup up to 3 bank accounts for direct deposit and so i put a small amount in there each check.

  5. Jozef says:

    Many banks allow you to link a savings account with your checking account and transfer money between the two as needed. This was you can keep a small amount in interest-free checking, with the rest in interest-bearing savings account, which usually yields more interest as an interest-bearing checking account anyway.

  6. veterandem says:

    The wife and I use the state employees credit union (sponsored by my mother) where earn a low yield on our “shares” and checking accounts, which is acceptable when you taker into account that our IRA’s and checking and money market accounts are around 4.5%. We’ve never been happier at a banking institution in our financial lives.

  7. AstroPig7 says:

    Well, this might explain why Frost Bank recently decided to move me to a new type of checking account with a higher minimum balance. I love the actions a bank can take without my approval!

  8. schiff says:

    Bank Of America will waive the fees on almost any checking account if Direct Deposit is used. This was also the case with Washington Mutual (although WaMu was so difficult to bank with I would never recommend them to anyone).

  9. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    Credit Unions Credit Unions Credit Unions.

    Way nicer than any MegabBanCorp and they’ve always treated me right.

  10. @rtwigg: They recently lowered the APY on my account. It didn’t say why online, only that it had happened.

    Did this happen to all of their accounts or what?

  11. compuwarescc says:

    You should take a look at investor checking account – you have to open a brokerage account, but both have no minimum and no fees – so you can ignore the brokerage and use the checking.

    The best part? 4.25% interest on checking and no ATM fees.

  12. SadSam says:

    This has totally happened to us, long term customers of Wachovia. For years I never had a fee show up in my account and this year its been one random fee after another (not overdraft or other fees caused by my screw ups, but just random fees). I think I’ve finally gotten the problem solved by switching to a new type of account that factors in my mortgage and other accounts with Wachovia. Wachovia did refund all the fees as I worked through this problem, but the hassle factor was high.

  13. sotto voce: Credit Union.

  14. RossMcD says:

    Compuwarescc – isn’t the checking account non-FDIC insured?

  15. flyover says:


    clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.

  16. Caroofikus says:

    USAA has free checking that pays interest. It also gives cashback on debit card purchases when you sign and refunds ATM fees from all banks. If you can bank with them but aren’t, you’re nuts.