6 must-have features for checking accounts

Search for accounts with no -- or avoidable -- fees
Search for accounts with no -- or avoidable -- fees © Ismagilov/

There are still lots of free checking accounts, and they're worth looking into, McBride says.

McBride recommends looking at online banks, community banks and credit unions when hunting for fee-free checking accounts. Only 38 percent of all banks offered free checking that's noninterest bearing in 2013 versus 76 percent in 2009, according to Bankrate.

And a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study shows that big banks generally charge higher fees.

However, 72 percent of all credit unions still offer free checking, according to Bankrate. Big online banks like Ally and ING Direct also dish out free online checking.

And there's one more alternative: Bank accounts that aren't free can become free with direct deposit, McBride says.


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