Bankrate’s semiannual Checking Account Pricing Study looked at what the 10 largest institutions in each of the 35 largest U.S. markets offer in consumer checking accounts. Researchers from gathered comprehensive rate, fee and policy information from 350 institutions and 1,261 separate accounts. Here’s what we found.

The Stories

Lower fees and more free checking

Some banks have lowered fees, and there are more free checking accounts than before. But interest yields are lower than ever.

Know your checking style

There’s no one-size-fits-all checking account. Finding the right account requires some self-examination.

ATM surcharges surge

Consumers will pay more than $2.2 billion this year in ATM surcharges. That’s up 18 percent from the 1999 estimate of $1.91 billion.

Internet banks still a better deal?

Virtual banks used to be the low-cost banking alternative, but they’re rapidly raising their fees.

Study highlights

A summary of key findings from Bankrate’s exclusive Checking Account Study.

The Charts

Find the best checking account for you

Since we all use our checking accounts differently, we’ve broken down our checking study data into three consumer profiles:

Transactors: Maintain a $1,500 balance, make 25 transactions a month and pay one NSF fee a year.

Savers: Maintain a $1,500 balance, make 12 transactions a month and pay no NSF fees.

Typicals: Maintain a $1,500 balance and make 12 transactions a month and pay one NSF fee a year.

On the next page, select your area and the checking category and hit ‘Go,’ then click on the profile that best fits your checking activity to find the best account for you. You can also use the search to find the best ATM and debit card deals in your area.

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