Free Checking Accounts Heading The Way Of The Dodo

For much of the last decade, more and more banks had been offering checking accounts with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. But a new study from shows that this trend appears to have ended.

According to their study of the the 25 largest banks and thrifts in the top 25 U.S. markets, the number of free checking accounts — i.e., no fees and no balance requirements — has dropped 11% (from 76% to 65%) in just the last year.

Additionally, the average balance requirement on a checking account has risen 228% since 2008, from $109.26 to $249.50. On interest-earning checking accounts, the average minimum is now $3883.40, an increase of $511.22 over last year.

For the first time since it started tracking such data in 1998, BankRate says monthly service fees have increased, from an average of $1.77 to $2.49 for checking accounts and from $12.55 to $13.04 for interest-earning checking accounts.

And they’re not done yet. Both ATM fees and bounced-check fees have increased in the last year, at the same time as yields on interest-earning checking accounts have dropped.

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