Free checking, RIP. It was nice while it lasted.
Reversing a trend that began in the mid-1990s, big banks are imposing new fees on their least-profitable customers — those who want just a bare-bones checking account.
Those who can’t maintain fat balances, or who don’t use other services that would make them more lucrative to a bank, probably will need to cough up about $100 a year if they want to stay put.
Blame the financial crisis. As part of the reforms adopted after the banking system’s near-meltdown in 2008, the federal government has made it more difficult for banks to impose credit-card late fees, debit-card overdraft penalties and other charges.
Saying the new rules will cost them billions of dollars a year, the big banks plan to bring back maintenance fees on basic checking accounts.
The upshot: If you’re not prepared to stockpile cash in a checking account, be prepared to pay a monthly fee or to take your money to a smaller bank.
Of course, free checking was never quite free — at least for the banks. Large institutions typically spend $300 to $350 a year to provide a checking account, including paying for branches, automated-teller machines, online account access and customer service by phone.
Avoiding monthly charges now will take some work.
You can read the full article at http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/la-fi-free-checking-20110204,0,3997818,full.story