Banks with Free Checking and Savings Accounts for Overdraft Protection
Did you know there are banks with free checking and savings accounts that let you use your savings account in the event of an overdraft on your checking? In July of 2010 federal laws changed the way that banks and credit unions are allowed to charge you overdraft fees. Prior to this law, banks would typically sign you up for automatic overdraft protection, and there was often no way to opt-out of the service. This form of “protection” was them guaranteeing you that your charge or check would go through, and they would charge you a convenience fee usually in the range of $28-$35.
These new federal laws prevent such a predatory practice on consumers. But, what if you need or want overdraft protection but don’t want to pay those hefty $35 NSF “convenience” fees? That’s exactly what this article is here to answer for you. Bonus: a few of the institutions listed below are banks with free checking and savings accounts.
Often times today, banks will require you to use a line of credit or credit card as overdraft protection for your checking account. But did you know there are institutions that let you use your savings account as a backup in the event of an overdraft on your checking account? Banks.com has done the research and we are here with the banks that let you do so – and many of these banks offer free checking and savings accounts. The institutions listed below are in no specific order.
Not only is PNC one of the banks with free checking and savings accounts, they allow you to link the two for overdraft protection. We like PNC as their savings account is also a high-yield account. Our only complaint of PNC is that they only have locations in twenty states and Washington D.C. Another great feature of PNC is their ‘virtual wallet’. This is comprised of three types of accounts:
- Spend – A checking account for everyday transactions, debit card purchases, bill payments, groceries, gas, and just everything that you normally would use a checking account for.
- Reserve – A short-term savings account where money can easily be set aside for upcoming purchases and budgeting. The Reserve (aka Savings) account also serves as overdraft protection for your Spend (checking) account. This account is not subject to the federal transaction limits like other savings accounts.
- Growth – A long-term savings account to help grow your nest egg and to plan for any life-changing purchases or unforeseen emergencies. The growth account is the high-yield savings account we mentioned above. This account is subject to the federal transaction limits on savings accounts (typically 6 withdrawals a month before fees will be incurred)
Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the more common options in this list. We maintain an unbiased approach, but according to the internet, it seems you either love ’em or you hate ’em. Regardless of how you feel, they do allow their customers to link a savings account (or secondary checking account) to their primary checking to use as overdraft protection.
According to their website, Bank of America says most of their accounts qualify for this service. The one exception that is listed specifically is their SafeBalance Banking account. The SafeBalance account was making its way around social media a while back for charging customers $4.95 per month despite being labeled as a “free account” at the time. The bank now says the account has no fees for currently-enrolled students.
Wells Fargo doesn’t fall in the list of banks with free checking and savings accounts – but their overdraft protection services are pretty good. As with the other banks on this list, they do allow you to link a savings account to your checking account as overdraft protection. They’re a very well-known institution, and they’ve got locations all over the place.
Overdraft Rewind – In addition to letting customers use a savings account as overdraft protection, they also offer a unique service called Overdraft Rewind. Whenever the bank receives a direct deposit or any deposit before 9am, they automatically take a look at the previous day’s transactions and take your recent deposit into consideration to recalculate any potential overdrafts from the day before.
JP Morgan Chase is another very well-known bank, but many consumers may be unaware of their overdraft protection services. Also of note, Chase does offer free checking and savings accounts.
Although Chase lets you link a savings account to a checking account as overdraft protection, a couple of their accounts are exempt from this service:
- Chase High School Checking Account
- Chase Secure Checking Account
The overdraft protection services offered by U.S. Bank are unique in that they allow you to link a savings account as overdraft protection, but they also allow you to link multiple other accounts and set them as a priority. Let’s say your checking balance is low and your linked-savings account is also low. U.S. Bank then allows you to link additional accounts in the form of:
- Savings and Money Market Accounts
- Credit Cards
- Lines of Credit
- Home Equity Lines of Credit
They also make the process very simple. When you log into your online banking, or open the mobile app, under your checking account is an “Overdraft Protection” link that allows you to select and prioritize your backup accounts.
Clearly this is not exhaustive list of banks with free checking and savings accounts, or offering convenient overdraft protection. However, it should serve as you begin your research. It’s entirely possible that your current bank offers this service as well. But be warned — if you call your bank and inquire about overdraft protection services, they may try to “up-sell” you to a line of credit or credit card. Be direct about what you are looking for.
Savings Withdrawal Limits & Fees – Federal regulations dictate the number of withdrawals that can be made from a savings account before any fees are incurred. With the exception of PNC, just about any other bank that lets you link a savings account as overdraft protection. This will count any overdrafts towards your federal withdrawal limits and fees may be incurred.