Does free checking still exist?

Fees are taking over at banks making it hard to find a free account. Bankrate’s annual checking survey found only 39% of surveyed non-interest checking accounts are free of charge. That number continues to decrease. In 2009, 76% of the accounts in the survey offered free checking. However, if you live in Cleveland the news isn’t as fee-ridden.

These increased fees are frustrating consumers. In the Bankrate survey, 72% of Americans said they would switch checking account providers if their bank raised fees on checking accounts.

There are often ways to get around all these fees. A majority of the banks surveyed will waive the monthly fee if you meet certain conditions like direct depositing money.

Also, don’t overdraft your account. You’re automatically opted out of coverage unless you agree to opt into the protection. The most common charge is $35, but Cleveland is below that threshold. The fees are so low in comparison to others, they rank second lowest in the country at $28.74.

That’s still a lot of money, so balance that checkbook even if it’s online.