RiverTrace Blog

Are Free Checking Accounts Really Free?

Posted on: March 30th, 2017 in Financial Education

Many financial institutions advertise free checking, but it’s becoming more challenging to tell which are actually free and which are anything but. According to the American Bankers Association, the annual cost for a bank to maintain your checking account averages between $250 and $400 per year. Caulk it up to the cost of doing business—from printing to processing, ATM maintenance to branch personnel, banks must cover their overhead costs. It’s no wonder banks are doing away with free checking entirely.'

What Banks Have Free Checking Accounts?

Big banks were largely affected by the financial crisis and the changes in government regulations that resulted. These drastically reduced banks’ sources of income, and increased their compliance costs. Consequently, products like basic checking could no longer be given to customers at no charge. These are a few of many reasons why you’re less likely to find a bank to open a free checking account with no strings attached.

On the other hand, if you head to a credit union, you’ll see that free checking accounts still exist.

Not only that, but credit unions have some of the best checking products available. Checking accounts with a credit union provide perks that accounts with large financial institutions lack because of overhead costs and government regulations. Since credit unions are a not-for-profit financial cooperative, the revenue generated goes back to members in the form of savings.


At RiverTrace, we proudly offer a variety of checking accounts, with something that works for everyone—and that includes free checking. Free Connections Checking is just that, absolutely free. For members who want hard working, interest-earning checking that doubles as a savings account, check out our Pathways Checking. Trying to reduce the burden of poor financial decisions, or rebuild your credit? Consider Second Chance Checking.

Open a Free Checking Account today!

Regardless of your financial health, at RiverTrace, we’re confident there is a checking account option that will meet your needs. By joining us and opening a checking account, you’ll also get access to other beneficial financial products and services. Higher interest on savings accounts, lower interest on loans, competitive rates on credit cards, personal service, and professional support with managing your credit and finances.

Related: How to Rebuild Credit

So, back to free checking—what does “free” checking really mean? The following services and features likely come to mind…

  • No monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Free online checking
  • Free mobile banking
  • Unlimited bill pay
  • Free account statements
  • Free, no-surcharge ATM access
  • Free debit/ATM card

When you bank with a large financial institution there are oftentimes hidden fees associated with the things you’ve come to expect are free. Monthly maintenance charges, quarterly service fees, balance requirements and penalties for not having direct deposit only begin to scratch the surface. If your account is ever in an insufficient funds status, you may pay a hefty overdraft charge. Ask these types of questions wherever you decide to open an account—national bank or local credit union. Add up all the fees, don’t get tricked into opening an account that charges too much. A checking account should help you succeed financially, not strip you of extra dollars.

The Credit Union Difference

It’s easy to become a bank customer. Why not be a credit union member? At RiverTrace, we provide members with products and services to help them achieve financial success while giving them access to the resources and support necessary to make smarter financial decisions. And just to reiterate, so long as you qualify, this includes opening a free checking account for you!

Join the RiverTrace community today and start enjoying our competitive product offerings and personalized service. For more information on products, services and other advantages of becoming a credit union member, contact us now at (804) 266-2767.

If you need to contact us about a news item, event, or just want to give us a shout, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 804-266-2767 or emailing us.

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