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If you’re paying fees to access your own money, it’s time to dump your stupid bank.
Do it now do it now DO IT NOW. If you pay $10 a month for not carrying a minimum balance, $2 to request a balance, or ATM fees when you need to withdraw money, vote with your feet. Get. Out. NOW.
I’ll share bank accounts that are completely FREE to have and use with NO minimum. Oh, and you don’t need a physical branch.
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Get a FREE bank account (don’t pay to access your own money!)
Personally, I don’t think a large checking account balance is a badge of honor. So you have $100,000 sitting in a checking account? I mean, that’s cool but… your money should be working for you while you sleep at night. And it ain’t doin’ anything in your checking account. Especially if you pay fees to have said account.
And if you receive the bulk of your money through direct deposit, you do NOT need a physical branch.
Something that irritates me more than watching someone pay at a restaurant with a debit card is hearing they still pay fees for using their checking account.
To those people, I’d say… there is a way out. And yep, you’ll have to switch your direct deposits. No excuses.
Here are some totally free bank accounts to consider. Dump your bank!
1. Fidelity Cash Management account
This is what I personally use as my checking account. I’ve had it for years. And used the debit card to withdraw funds all over the world, including Japan, Chile, England, and Spain.
I’ve never paid a single cent for the account. And I think nothing of walking up to ANY ATM in the world and pulling out MY money. If there’s a fee, it doesn’t matter – it’s reimbursed as soon as the withdrawal clears. I’ve never had an issue with the card not working or with the conversion rates.
I recently recommended this to a friend who was paying $8 per month to have a checking account – $96 a year just to access his own money! Criminal. Why do that when options like this exist for free?
Would you switch your direct deposit just once to save $96 in a single year?
2. Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account
Essentially the same except…
- You’ll get a hard pull on your credit file
- ATM fees are reimbursed once per statement cycle instead of as you go
- You must open a Schwab brokerage account (thought you don’t have to use it, and it’s free)
Lots of travelers like this account for some reason. I prefer the Fidelity version, but that’s just me. If you like the setup of this account better, go for it! Both are free, so I approve whole-heartedly of either choice.
3. Aspiration Summit
This one is awesome because their checking account has a savings account built-in, like a hybrid.
Once you hit $2,500 in the account, you’ll earn 1% interest on the balance, which compounds monthly.
If you like the simplicity of a singular account for checking and savings, and plan to save over $2,500, this is a solid option. Every ATM in the world is free to use. If there are any fees, you’ll get them back. And you’ll only pay a fee on this account if you choose.
Aspiration is also committed to helping non-profits around the world. So they’re free to have, and help worthy causes. Win-win all around.
Simple is cool because they analyze your spending and give you a “safe to spend” number. That’s helpful if you rely on your checking account to reflect your finances.
In addition, you can add savings goals – as many as you want – and fill them up like little buckets, right inside your account. (This is known as the envelope system.)
You can also set up a shared account with a partner or spouse. That’s useful if you’re saving up to take a trip together, for example. Or for a house down payment.
Biggest drawback? You have to use their network of fee-free ATMs to make transactions. So you can’t stroll up to any ATM like you can with the previous 3 options.
However, if you have a convenient ATM near you, or if you don’t use them often enough to really matter, the other cool features might win you over.
The goal-setting and partner account-sharing are excellent features – this should appeal to lots of peeps. And the account is free to keep and have. The app is also super cool and easy to use.
5. Capital One 360
Here’s another free account with no minimums or requirements. Just free to use.
Their app is clean and easy to navigate, customer service is great, and branches are plentiful should you need them. If you have a Capital One credit card, even better – it’s easy to move money across your accounts.
I have Capital One for my auto loan and they’re all over Dallas. I’d consider them if I didn’t already have the Fidelity account.
Bonus: Your local credit union
If you really want a physical branch, consider supporting a credit union near you. Their rates are often competitive and generous. And you’ll have a branch nearby should you need it.
It’s also good to support local businesses. Even better, you’ll be privy to preferred rates on auto loans and mortgages, should you ever need them. And having a checking account is a stepping stone toward that bigger overall relationship. Plus, supporting your community is awesome. 👍
Most credit unions have websites. Commit to finding one near you. Or even better, walk in and ask what they can do for you.
What to look for in a checking account
This is nowhere near an exhaustive list, but a resource to give you ideas. There are great checking accounts available through:
- …And so many others. (Anyone know a good option with a bank that starts with “G”? I was on a roll with this list! A, B, C, D, E, F…)
What you want to keep an eye out for is:
- Fee schedule
- No minimum balances
- No ATM fees (or a list of free ATMs)
- Free bill pay
- Mobile deposits
- A great mobile app
You might also ask about any type of APYs for letting your money sit. Although a money market account, CD, bond, or IRA is even better (which is why I don’t really care about APYs for checking). But first things first, dump your bank if you’re paying fees. You can work on the other stuff when you’re ready. 😉
My mom was paying a monthly checking account fee, with another fee to have paper statements (she’s with Regions). I get that old habits die hard and it’s an effort to switch, but would you fill out one piece of paper to save $96 a year for perpetuity? I know I would.
There are so many no-fee options out there. If you’re banking with Chase, Bank of America, Regions, Wells Fargo, or any other bank that charges you a monthly fee – however small it is – dump them immediately!
This list should be enough to get you started. But if you know of another nationally-available option, please let us know!
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