With some exceptions, interest checking continues to become less attractive for account holders. Yields were down for the fifth consecutive year, falling 2 basis points to an all-time low of 0.08 percent.
Even as yields fell, fees rose. The average monthly maintenance fee for an interest-bearing checking account jumped 8.5 percent, from $13.05 to $14.05.
Avoiding those fees is mostly about keeping lots of money stored at your bank, earning a miniscule interest rate. While many noninterest checking accounts allow you to avoid monthly maintenance fees by signing up for direct deposit, 81 percent of interest accounts require maintaining a minimum balance to steer clear of monthly fees.
Making matters worse, that minimum balance increased sharply, rising 43 percent from $3,883 to $5,587.
Tip: If you want to earn interest on your checking account balance, and you tend to make a lot of debit card transactions, you might want to look into high-interest checking accounts, McBride says. Mostly offered by small banks, credit unions and online banks, high-interest checking accounts can pay more than 1 percent on deposits.
"For those who can meet the requirements, it's a slam-dunk because the interest earnings trump anything else you're going to find on risk-free investments," McBride says.