Large banks increasingly are attracting customers with accounts that waive fees if customers meet only a few conditions.
A new checking account rolled out by RBS Citizens Bank eliminates a $9.99 monthly maintenance fee if customers make a single deposit of any amount every month; while Santander Bank, formerly Sovereign, exempts monthly fees if customers have direct deposits of $1,500 per month. Additionally, Bank of America waives its $12 monthly maintenance fee when customers direct deposit $250 or more per month.
At the same time, however, banks are imposing other charges for such services as paper account statements or withdrawals from another bank's ATM. More banks are using these mostly free checking accounts as teasers, rather than toasters and other freebies, and as a means of reaching more engaged customers who may be interested in auto loans, student loans, mortgages, wealth management, and other services. Bankrate.com senior analyst Greg McBride says banks are no longer offering free checking to every customer -- just those with direct deposits, electronic bill pay, or multiple accounts.