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Should You Pay for a Checking Account?

Written by Banks Editorial Team

Updated October 2, 2023​

3 min. read​

Do you know when it makes sense to pay for a checking account? Whether you are searching for a basic checking account, or you are looking for a high-interest rate checking account, finding one that meets your needs is easier than ever. Some consumers head to their local banks, others use credit unions, and many turn to online checking account options. Regardless of what type of checking account you are looking for, there are many options for free checking accounts. In some instances, however, there may be a good reason to pay for your checking account.

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Why Pay for a Checking Account?

With the number of banking options available today, it may not seem sensible to pay for your checking account. However, there may be some cases where it is practical to pay for a checking account. Here are some specific instances:

  • Poor banking history. If you have had problems with checking accounts in the past, you may not have any options but to pay for a checking account. Those who have had their accounts closed because they failed to pay overdrafts, or because the bank decided they were too great a risk, may have no option but to pay for a checking account. These accounts are commonly called second chance checking accounts and may have specific restrictions applied to them as well as higher fees.
  • Removing account restrictions. Some banks offer checking accounts with higher monthly fees in return for higher interest rates on savings accounts, CDs, and on checking account balances. In some cases, banks may charge a fee after you have written a certain number of checks, made a certain number of deposits, or because you failed to set up direct deposit. Some banks will waive these requirements in return for paying a fee to open an account. Other banks will charge a maintenance fee on a monthly basis to waive some of their higher fees. Others may also offer you a flat fee in return for honoring an overdraft if you do not go over a specific amount and fund your account within a short period of time (usually two business days).
  • Additional bank services. Some fees are unique depending on the bank. For example, there are banks which will charge you for a paper statement. If you are not a tech savvy person, you may have to pay a fee to obtain a monthly paper statement delivered to your home. This service was free before many people started accepting statements via electronic means, but since banks now expect most people to have access to a computer, it is something they have started charging for. There may be other fees associated with a checking account which amount to paying for your checking account including ATM fees, inactivity fees, and more.
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Concern for Privacy and Monthly Minimums

Many banks do not have a fee that is paid to set up an account and instead will charge a monthly maintenance fee. These fees can add up over time, so it is important that you carefully review any agreement you are signing with the bank. Some people who set up bank accounts are concerned about their privacy, which is why they opt for paper statements, do not use online bill payments, and primarily use banks with a brick-and-mortar presence.

Keep in mind, banks take heavy security measures to protect your private information. For most individual consumers, free checking accounts are the best option. However, if you operate a small business or maintain a checking account for a fraternal organization, you may have to pay for a checking account. In some cases, you can escape the requirement of maintaining a minimum balance by opting to pay a monthly fee instead.

No Fee Checking Accounts Still Incur Some Fees

While the idea of a free checking account may seem like a great idea, it is important to keep in mind there may still be some fees associated with the use of a checking account. Banks typically will charge an overdraft fee if you accidentally write a check for more than your balance. If you have a linked savings account from which the bank can draw the funds you overdraft, they may waive these fees. Other banks will offer overdraft protection which will pay the full check and you will pay interest on the amount of the overdraft.

For most people who need to establish a checking account, there are plenty of free checking account options to chose from. One of these free checking accounts may suit your needs, but in the event you cannot identify one, you may choose a bank account which costs you a monthly fee. If you do have to pay for your checking account, make sure you understand how much it will cost and ensure that you have the funds available to pay for your account, or you could run into additional banking problems.

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