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Are Checking Accounts Truly Free?

Checking accounts are useful tools for managing your day-to-day finances and for paying your monthly bills. As personal finances move firmly into the digital realm, it is more important than ever to select a checking account that gives you online access wherever and whenever you need it.

Most financial institutions, including Travis Credit Union, offer checking accounts that provide online, over-the-phone and at-branch access. But some also offer no-fee or low-fee options that allow you to keep more of your hard-earned money. To see if checking accounts are truly free, here’s a review of this staple banking product.

What is the Best Use of Checking Accounts?

Checking accounts are best used to keep funds readily available so you can make purchases and pay bills. These accounts are convenient ways to receive paychecks from your employer, government tax refunds and other payments using direct deposit. Many checking accounts also allow transactions via Automatic Teller Machines (ATM), by writing checks, via authorized payments from the account and directly by in-person visits at a branch.

Are All Checking Accounts Equal?

Checking products will vary by features such as fees, account accessibility, dividends, mobile wallet digital payments such as Apple Pay®, age-specific features and more. Credit unions and banks will have their own version of a checking account. Here are some popular types of checking accounts:

  • Traditional Checking: These accounts offer traditional check-writing access and may come with overdraft coverage. Depending on the financial institution, they may have no monthly maintenance fee or may require a minimum balance to avoid a fee. Other potential fees associated with this account include statement fees, overdraft protection fees, non-sufficient funds fee and ATM fees. Be sure to identify any potential fees before opening a traditional checking account.
  • Checkless Checking: Similar to Travis Credit Union’s Access Account, these type of checking accounts do not have check-writing privileges. Instead, they mainly utilize a debit card for purchases. Some checkless accounts will only allow you to spend up to the account’s available balance, so that you avoid any overdraft fees. They may come with a free bill pay option managed through online banking. This type of checking usually doesn’t have any maintenance fees.
  • Interest-bearing Checking: If you tend to carry a higher balance in your checking account, interest-bearing checking may be the best option. This account allows you to earn dividends on the funds you have in the account, although there’s usually a minimum balance required to earn dividends. There may also be a required number of debit card transactions each month to waive any fees. Be sure to keep your balance above the minimum balance requirement to avoid being charged a fee.

Shop Around For Checking

If you’re looking for a new or a better checking account, shop around. Finding the best checking solution for you could save you money, provide you with peace of mind and add greater convenience. Review account features and find one that best meets your specific checking needs.

Travis Credit Union offers three distinct checking accounts customized to our members: Free Checking, Access Checking and Investor Checking. View our Checking Page to see which account is right for you. Travis can help with all aspects of your financial health including lending products such as home loans, vehicle loans, credit cards and more.

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