Table of contents
Chapter 1: Types of checking accounts
Chapter 2: ABCs of ATMs
Chapter 3: Fees, fees and more fees
Chapter 4: Protecting your account
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to checking accounts. You must be aware of fees if you want to avoid them.
For most consumers, a free checking account is the best place to start. You won't have to worry about maintaining a balance or sticking with a preset number of checks that you're allowed to write each month. Some banks give you free checking if you set up direct deposit for a check that you receive on a routine basis -- a payroll or government check.
Some institutions might require a certain minimum balance for free checking. If you can live with those stipulations then there's nothing wrong with signing up. One of the best ways to avoid fees is by finding the account that's right for you.
But there are plenty of fees that can be charged in conjunction with a free account. The upside is: practice good checking habits and you'll avoid many of them.
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Prepaid card issuers are feeling new pressure to offer clear fee descriptions.
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