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Shopping around for free checking accounts

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ATLANTA -

If there was ever a time to shop around for a new checking account, it would be now. Free checking accounts are coming with more and more strings attached.

According to bankrate.com, 76 percent of checking accounts in 2009 that paid not interest were free. The percentage in 2012 is now at 39. But to keep them free, the catch is that you must keep a minimum balance generally about $1,500 or in some cases you have to have a certain number of monthly direct deposits.

Not everyone can do that so there are some other options out there.

The first is to look for a credit union. Online data shows they still offer very good free checking deals.

Also, have you ever heard of an online bank/ They have no brick and mortar set up so they can sometimes be more competitive than a big bang, but make sure they are FDIC insured.

In addition, make sure you really need to pay for overdraft protection. If you bounce a check, overdraft protection covers you and saves you some embarrassment. However, you are still on the hook with the financial institution for a penalty.

And with everything concerning money, shop around. Just because a bank has decided customers need to pay for a once free checking account does not mean there are not better options elsewhere.

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