Vendor Reviews

Tip: Use an Online Fax Service

When creating a new checking account, some banks will require you to fax rather than email signed documents. If you don't have a fax machine or a fax line, you can sign up for an online fax service to send and receive documents without any additional equipment. You can even use your smartphone's camera to "scan" documents, if you don't have a scanner. Most of the companies offer free trials, so you can use the service for the signup process with the bank, cancel before your free trial is over and pay nothing.

Washington Mutual

Reviewed Plan
  Free Checking
Min. Opening Balance
  $1.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
 
Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Mastercard
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
  None
Fraud Protection
 
Yes
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  2,180
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: Pro

Pros

  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • $1 minimum opening balance
  • Extensive Fraud Protection
  • Large number of locations
  • Good customer service

Cons

  • No ATM rebates

Conclusion
WaMu's Free Checking has a great range of standard features which will appeal to most consumers looking to open a new checking account. WaMu's standard features are better than most of their competitors. A great example is WaMu's extensive identity theft protection, as it is far beyond what other banks typically provide. You get a solid service with WaMu that is better than a lot of the other free checking account services out there.

The minimum opening balance for a WaMu checking account is $1. The checking account has no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. WaMu's free checking account allows you to use all WaMU ATMs for free. If you use an ATM that is associated with another bank then you will pay that bank's ATM service fees. The Free Checking account comes with a MasterCard debit card. Your account is accessible online and by phone. Overdraft protection comes with every plan, as you are forgiven for one overdraft charge a year. WaMu's fraud protection is excellent, as WaMu not only gets you your money back it also sets you up with a customer service representative to help you get your situation resolved. Their customer service in general is pretty remarkable. We have never had a problem getting in touch with them to have a question or two answered about their checking account service. WaMu&339;s free checking account is a great choice for virtually anyone, since WaMu gives you a quality service without charging you more for it.

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Bank of America

Reviewed Plan
  MyAccess Checking
Min. Opening Balance
  $1.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
  Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Visa
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
  None
Fraud Protection
 
Yes
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  5,700
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: MyAccess Checking

Pros

  • Greatest number of locations
  • Keep the change savings service
  • Total security protection zero liability guarantee
  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly service fee
  • Large number of locations

Cons

  • Poor customer service

Conclusion
Bank of America is one of the largest banks in the U.S. today and has nationwide coverage that gives it an advantage over many of its competitors. Bank of America's MyAccess Checking service is an average checking account service. The MyAccess Checking service does have a few additional features available that might help set it apart for some people, but it is otherwise very similar to most other free checking account services.

The minimum opening balance for a Bank of America checking account is $1. The MyAccess Checking account comes with no minimum balance requirements, no monthly service fee, and free online banking. Bank of America not only offers the customer the ability to set up overdraft protection, it gives the customer protection from fraud with its Total Security Protection Zero Liability guarantee. Bank of America also has their "Keep the Change®" savings service that rounds up charges and deposits the extra change into a savings account. However, this service is only available to those who have both a checking and savings account with Bank of America. One potential problem with the MyAccess Checking service is that you have to set up a monthly direct deposit with the account for the monthly fee to be waved. If there is no monthly direct deposit associated with the checking account then customer has to pay $5.95 a month. The MyAccess Checking account ends up providing a good service with only a few fees.

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JP Morgan Chase

Reviewed Plan
  Free Checking
Min. Opening Balance
  $25.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
 
Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Visa
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
 
None, if...
Fraud Protection
 
Yes
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  3,108
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: Free Checking

Pros

  • No minimum balance
  • $25 minimum opening balance
  • Large number of locations

Cons

  • No ATM Rebates
  • Must meet certain requirements to avoid monthly fee

Conclusion
JPMorgan Chase's Free Checking account is your average checking account. There is nothing special about Chase's checking account, but that does not mean it is a service that should be ignored. The Chase's checking account gives you usual list of features making it a good, useful, and inexpensive checking account service. There are no real downsides to Chase's Free Checking, but again there is nothing that really makes the service stand out either.

Chase's Free Checking account allows you to use all Chase ATMs for free. If you use an ATM that is associated with another bank then you will pay that bank's ATM service fees. The Free Checking account comes with a Visa debit card. You can always access your checking account online at www.chase.com or you can access your account by phone. Overdraft protection is available for those that qualify. Fraud protection comes with every account and gives you the assurance that if your identity ever gets stolen Chase will assist you in getting your money back. You do not have to pay a monthly service fee, as long as you have a monthly direct deposit set up with the checking account or you make at least 5 debit card purchases a month. In the end, JPMorgan Chase's Free Checking service is an average service that gives you the basics and stops there.

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Wachovia

Reviewed Plan
  Free Checking
Min. Opening Balance
  $100.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
 
Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Visa
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
  None
Fraud Protection
 
Yes
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  3,103
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: Free Checking

Pros

  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • Wachovia Security Plus Guarantee
  • Large number of locations

Cons

  • $100 minimum opening balance

Conclusion
Wachovia's Free Checking provides you with a high level of customer service and a good overall checking account service. Wachovia does a good job of giving you all the features you would expect. While Wachovia's free checking account is not anything spectacular, it is a great choice for anyone looking for a checking account as it gives you everything you need at no cost.

The minimum opening balance for a Wachovia checking account is $100, which is somewhat high for a free checking account. The checking account has no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. Overdraft protection is available for those that qualify. Fraud protection comes with every account and gives you the assurance that if your identity ever gets stolen Wachovia will assist you in getting your money back. Customers can receive their billing and account statements online, which allows for instant access to current and past account information. Wachovia also provides the option for free balance alerts, which let the account holder know his or her checking account balance, including whether the account has gone below a certain amount. The overall level of Wachovia's online services is rather impressive and really helps to make the checking account service a lot more accessible.

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Wells Fargo

Reviewed Plan
  Free Checking
Min. Opening Balance
  $100.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
  Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Visa
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
  None
Fraud Protection
 
Yes
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  3,800
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: Free Checking

Pros

  • No monthly service fee
  • Large number of locations

Cons

  • No refunds on any ATM fees
  • $100 minimum opening balance
  • Most features come at additional cost
  • Fraud protection is not automatically included with checking account.

Conclusion
Wells Fargo's Free Checking provides the customer with an account that has no monthly service fee. The Free Checking account has some very distinct differences from other banks' free checking accounts. The difference being that Wells Fargo seems to charge a bit more for their free checking service than other banks do. Wells Fargo's free checking service is a little below average. We recommend that you look at other banks free checking services.

The minimum opening balance for a Wells Fargo checking account is $100, which is a bit high for a free checking account. The checking account has no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. It does provide overdraft protection and identity theft protection, but the latter comes at an additional cost of $12.99 a month. The checking account comes with online banking and bill pay services, but the bill pay services are only free for the first two months with ever month after that costing $6.95. In the end, Wells Fargo's free checking account just charges too much for the service it provides.

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U.S. Bank

Reviewed Plan
  Free Checking with Interest
Min. Opening Balance
  $100.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
  Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Visa
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
  None
Fraud Protection
 
Yes
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  2518
Interest
  0.01%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: Free Checking with Interest

Pros

  • No monthly fee
  • No minimum balance
  • Large number of locations
  • Risk-Free Guarantee protects customers from fraud loss

Cons

  • $100 minimum opening balance
  • Only has the potential to earn 0.01% interest at most

Conclusion
U.S. Bank's Free Checking with Interest is a typical checking account with a few things to differentiate it from other checking accounts. U.S. Bank's main strength might be that it has a large number of locations across the United States. The free checking account provided by U.S. Bank is a good choice for pretty much anyone, as it is a above average checking account service.

The minimum opening balance for a U.S.Bank checking account is $100, a bit much for a free checking account. U.S. Bank provides with its free checking account the expected no minimum balance and no monthly fee. Your account is accessible online and by phone. U.S. Bank also gives the customer the ability to open an overdraft credit line to protect themselves from overdraft charges. One feature which U.S. Bank's checking account has is that the check card that comes with the account earns rewards with each purchase. Another attractive feature that comes with any U.S. Bank checking account is the Risk-Free Guarantee. It ensures that the customer will be reimbursed for any unauthorized use of the account. The checking account has the potential to earn interest yet the amount earned is negligibly low and well under what other accounts offer.

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Regions Bank

Reviewed Plan
  LifeGreen Checking
Min. Opening Balance
  $50.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
 
Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Visa
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
 
None, if...
Fraud Protection
 
Yes
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  2,087
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: LifeGreen Checking

Pros

  • No minimum balance
  • $50 minimum opening balance
  • Large number of locations

Cons

  • No ATM rebates
  • Must meet certain requirements to avoid monthly fee

Conclusion
Regions Bank's LifeGreen Checking account falls short of being a good checking account service. Regions Bank gives you a checking account with no minimum balance requirement, which is typical for free checking accounts. There is a monthly fee of $5 if your account does not meet certain requirements. You do not have to pay a monthly fee if you make at least 5 electronic transactions per month, use direct deposit, or sign up for online statements. It is never a good sign when a free checking account is only free if you meet certain conditions. We would recommend that you look at other free checking account services that are truly free.

The minimum opening balance for a Regions Bank checking account is $50. The checking account has no minimum balance requirement, which is a nice but common feature of most free checking accounts. There is no monthly fee, if you meet certain requirements to avoid the monthly fee. Regions Bank's LifeGreen Checking account allows you to use all Regions ATMs for free. If you use an ATM that is associated with another bank then you will pay that bank's ATM service fees. The checking account comes with a Visa debit card. Your account is accessible online and by phone. Overdraft protection is available for those that qualify. Fraud protection comes with every account and gives you the assurance that if your identity ever gets stolen Regions will assist you in getting your money back. Regions Bank's checking account service makes you jump through a few hoops to avoid a monthly service fee, making it a service we can not recommend.

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Sun Trust

Reviewed Plan
  Free Checking
Min. Opening Balance
  $1.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
 
Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Visa
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
  Yes
Monthly Fee
  None
Fraud Protection
 
No, but...
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  1,747
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: Local

Pros

  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • $1 minimum opening balance
  • Online and telephone banking
  • Good number of locations

Cons

  • No ATM rebates
  • Fraud protection is not automatically included with checking account.

Conclusion
Sun Trust's Free Checking account is a decent example of an average checking account service. Sun Trust gives you a checking account with no fees, no minimum balance, and free Sun Trust ATMs. Sun Trust gives you basically everything you would want in a checking account except for fraud protection. Most companies give you some form of fraud protection for free, but Sun Trust charges an additional yearly fee for their fraud protection service. Since other banks include fraud protection for free and give you everything else Sun Trust does, it is recommended that you look at other checking account services.

The minimum opening balance for a Sun Trust checking account is $1. With Sun Trust's free checking you do not have a monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. Sun Trust's Free Checking account allows you to use all Sun Trust's ATMs for free. If you use an ATM that is associated with another bank then you will pay that bank's ATM service fees. The Free Checking account comes with a Visa debit card. Your account is accessible online and by phone. Overdraft protection is available for those that qualify. Fraud protection does not come included but is available for an additional fee of 34.95 a year. Sun Trust's checking account is a fine service that gives you all of the essentials with the exception of fraud protection.

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BB&T

Reviewed Plan
  Free Checking
Min. Opening Balance
  $50.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
 
Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Visa
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
  None
Fraud Protection
  Yes
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  1,484
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: Free Checking

Pros

  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • $50 minimum opening balance
  • Good number of locations

Cons

  • No ATM rebates

Conclusion
BB&T's Free Checking account is a slightly above average checking account service. Sun Trust gives you a checking account with no fees, no minimum balance, and free BB&T ATMs. BB&T gives you everything you would want in a checking account outside of ATM rebates. Most companies do not provide you with ATM rebates, so it is not all that surprising that BB&T's free checking account lacks such a feature.

The minimum opening balance for a BB&T checking account is $50. With BB&T's free checking you do not have a monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. BB&T's Free Checking account allows you to use all BB&T's ATMs for free. If you use an ATM that is associated with another bank then you will pay that bank's ATM service fees. The Free Checking account comes with a Visa debit card. Your account is accessible online and by phone. Overdraft protection is available for those that qualify for a line of credit or have an account associated with their checking account. Fraud protection comes included with every checking account. BB&T's checking account is a great service that gives you everything a good checking account should.

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National City Bank

Reviewed Plan
  Free Checking
Min. Opening Balance
  $50.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
 
Yes
ATM Rebates
  No
Check Card
  Visa
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
  None
Fraud Protection
 
No, but...
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  1,451
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: Free Checking

Pros

  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • $50 minimum opening balance
  • Good number of locations

Cons

  • Fraud protection is not included, must pay a monthly fee to have the feature
  • No ATM rebates

Conclusion
National City Bank's Free Checking account is a little below average when it comes to checking account services. National City gives you a checking account with no fees, no minimum balance, and free National City ATMs. National City does not include fraud protection with their free checking account service. You have to pay an additional $9.95 a month to get fraud protection with your free checking account. In addition to lacking free fraud protection, National City's free checking service does not have ATM rebates. Most companies do not provide you with ATM rebates, so it is not all that surprising that National City's free checking account lacks such a feature.

The minimum opening balance for a National City checking account is $50. With National City's free checking you do not have a monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. National City's free checking account allows you to use all their ATMs for free. If you use an ATM that is associated with another bank then you will pay that bank's ATM service fees. The free checking account comes with a Visa debit card. Your account is accessible online and by phone. Overdraft protection is available for those that qualify. Fraud protection comes at an additional cost of $9.95 per month. The free checking account from National City lacks a few to many things, so we recommend you look at other banks' checking accounts.

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Citibank

Reviewed Plan
  EZ Checking
Min. Opening Balance
 
$1.00
Minimum Balance
  $0.00
Free ATMs
 
Yes
ATM Rebates
 
Yes
Check Card
  Mastercard
Telephone Banking
  Yes
Online Banking
  Yes
Overdraft Protection
 
Yes
Monthly Fee
 
None, if...
Fraud Protection
  Yes
Direct Deposit
  Yes
Number of Branches
  1,036
Interest
  0%
FDIC Protection
  Yes
sign up now

Plan Reviewed: EZ Checking

Pros

  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • $1 minimum opening balance
  • ATM rebates
  • Good number of locations

Cons

  • Must meet certain requirements to avoid monthly fee

Conclusion
Citibanks's Free Checking account is an average checking account service. Citibank gives you a checking account with no fees, no minimum balance, and free Citibank ATMs. Citibank's checking account also comes with both fraud and overdraft protection. The only problem there is with Citibank's checking account service is that to avoid a monthly fee you have to meet certain requirements. To avoid a monthly fee you must make two monthly bill payments with the account, use direct deposit, or maintain an average balance of $1,500. If you can not meet one of these requirements then you end up having to pay a $7.50 monthly fee.

The minimum opening balance for a Citibank checking account is $1. With Citibank's free checking you do not have a minimum balance requirement. If you fulfill one of the requirements then you also do not have to pay a monthly fee. Citibank's Free Checking account allows you to use all Citibank's ATMs for free. Citibank will rebate you up to 5 times a month if you use any non-Citibank ATM. The Free Checking account comes with a Mastercard debit card. Your account is accessible online and by phone. Overdraft protection is available for those that qualify. Citibank's checking account is a good service, if you can avoid paying the monthly fee.

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