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The Unsung Hero of Finance

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Free checking is so ordinary that it’s often taken for granted. It’s hard to imagine it even having a genesis.

One blogger – in a more than 4,000-word manifesto on free checking – offers 1982 as the debut date of free checking services. While services tagged “free checking” may have existed before then, a few web sources indicate they were still mostly conditional.

The three-decade-old free checking account as it is known today is an innovation claimed by a Lincoln, Neb.-based direct mail company called ACTON Marketing. So popular was it that a few years later, the federal government got in on regulating what could be called “free” checking.

Free checking for financial institutions is that first handshake. This account is a reward in some ways, because free checking accounts do cost financial institutions money in overhead, such as security costs. Those overhead costs are one reason big banks bulk them up with conditions.

For example, one big bank will charge you $10 a month for a checking account unless you: make 10 debit card purchases/payments a month; have qualifying total direct deposits of $500; have a $1,500 minimum daily balance; or unless you have a campus debit or ATM card.

Checking is highly valued by financial institutions because where you place your main checking account is probably your main financial institution. You’ll do your bill pay or get a loan from there.

While everyday free checking accounts are disappearing from big banks – a much referencedMarch 3 Bankrate.com survey is generating positive buzz for credit unions as its champion.  

It notes that 72% of credit unions offer “standalone free checking” – meaning an account with no monthly service or point-of-sale transaction fees. In comparison, only about 38% of big banks offer free checking – down from 65% in 2010.

Additionally, according to the Bankrate survey, most credit unions have no monthly service fee and non-sufficient funds fees are about 29% less than what you’ll pay at a big bank.

At Truliant, you can open a basic checking account with no monthly service charge and you can make deposits from your mobile phone or with a scanner. Check out our free checking today.

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