Less is needed to open accounts
One bright spot in Bankrate's 2010 Checking Study was a continuing trend toward lower opening balance minimums to open a noninterest checking account. This year's study found the minimum to open the average checking account was $64.40, down from $68.32 last year and $87.67 in 2006.
For the 7.7 million Americans without any kind of transactional bank account, that means a lower barrier of entry into the many benefits of checking, including free check cashing and debit cards. A 2009 FDIC study found that 12.7 percent of those who had never had a bank account cited minimum opening balance requirements being too high as a factor in their unbanked status.
Tip: If you're looking for an account with a low opening balance, the good news is requirements vary widely between different institutions. In Bankrate's 2010 Checking Study, the banks surveyed were asking for opening balances on noninterest checking accounts from $0 to $2,000. Additionally, the majority of credit unions we surveyed in Bankrate's 2010 Credit Union Study had no minimum to open at all.