Many people have the New Year’s resolution to save money and get their finances under control. One of the easiest ways you can save money is to stop paying unnecessary banking fees. Since nearly everyone has a checking account, eliminating fees from checking accounts is great place to start to save money. I have already covered great deals offered by FNBO, ING Direct’s Electric Orange account, and the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account, but for an accurate picture of some of the best free checking accounts out there, it’s important to also look at the Ally Interest Checking Account.
This Ally account has no monthly maintenance fees, it offers free online bill pay, and it has no ATM fees. Ally promises that if you go to any ATM, it will automatically refund any ATM fees you incur at the end of your monthly statement. It also has a maximum of $9 per day for insufficient funds fees. If you overdraw your account multiple times in a day (which is easy to do if you lose track of your balance), you will not be charged per transaction: the maximum that you will be charged for that day is $9. Ideally, you will never overdraw your account at all, but it's nice to know that if you make a mistake, you won’t rack up hundreds in insufficient funds fees.
Although ING Direct’s Electric Orange account offers a better deal than Ally on small overdraft charges (ING merely charges you a regular interest rate, currently at 7.25%, on the amount borrowed), the Ally account pays a better regular interest rate than the ING Electric Orange account for deposit amounts under $50,000. While the ING Electric Orange account pays 0.25% on balances up to $50,000, this Ally account pays 0.50% APY on balances up to $14,999 and 1.05% APY on balances $15,000 and over. As with all banking products, you should closely look your own spending habits and analyze your deposit amounts before choosing the correct checking account for you. If you maintain a daily balance over $100,000 in your checking account, it could make more sense to go with the ING Electric Orange account since you would earn 1.25% APY on your deposit. However, if you have lower balances, this Ally account could be the better deal for you since you'll be earning at least 0.50% or 1.05% APY, no matter what your balance limit. It’s also important to remember that if you’re paying a lot of monthly maintenance fees, those fees can quickly negate any earnings you might have gotten from interest, so it's always look for low-fee or no-fees accounts when possible.
For the best information on reward checking, click here.