QoD: Can "free" checking accounts have fees?

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Mar 13, 2019
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Question of the Day, Checking Accounts

Answer: Yes, as long as they are not maintenance or activity fees. 

Five fees that are not considered maintenance or activity fees:

  • check-printing fees,
  • balance-inquiry fees,
  • dormant account fees,
  • stop-payment fees, and
  • ATM or electronic transfer fees not required to obtain an account

Questions:

  • Do you think it is misleading to have checking accounts advertised as "free" when they do have fees? 
  • Do you think you might incur any of the fees mentioned above? 
  • How can you find out more checking account fees before you sign up for an account?

Here's the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (from Understanding Reg DD's compliance requirements in Consumer Compliance Outlook]:

To ensure that consumers are not misled by the use of these terms [editor's note: free checking or no-cost accounts], §230.8(a) (2) prohibits depository institutions from describing an account as “free” or “no cost” (or similar terminology) if any maintenance or activity fee can be imposed. 

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You students play financial detectives in this NGPF Activity: Overdraft Fee Analysis

 

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.