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Fact Check: Most Americans Still Have Free Checking Accounts

NEW YORK ( -- When the economic downturn hit five years ago, many analysts predicted free checking accounts would become a thing of the past. After all, regulations such as the CARD Act and Dodd-Frank bill cut some of the revenue streams of financial institutions, and many people thought banks would have to make up for this revenue with additional fees.

But the majority of Americans still enjoy a free checking account.

According to a survey conducted by the American Bankers Association, 55% of bank customers are not being charged a fee for their checking account.

The figures from the annual survey have hovered around that number for the past few years: 59% had a free checking account in 2011, and 53% in the 2010 survey.

On the flip side, the findings show that almost half of Americans are now paying for a checking account. In fact, 14% pay $10 or more each month.

Here are some tips to possibly avoid a fee on your checking account:

  • Shop around for a different bank if your current bank continues to charge you a monthly fee on your account.
  • Be aware of your minimum balance. Many banks offer free checking if you keep at least a certain balance in your account. Make sure you are above this threshold.
  • Sign up for email and text alerts to update you when your balance dips below a certain level.
  • Check into making direct deposits. Some banks offer free checking if your paycheck is deposited automatically.
  • Have multiple accounts at your bank. Your bank wants as much of your business as possible and may offer free services for multiple accounts.
  • Use your bank's ATMs when making withdrawals.

The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted in July for the ABA by Ipsos Public Affairs, an independent market research firm.