Daily Dupaco

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Free checking, debit card programs do still exist

Fee or free?

It's a pretty easy choice.

Some of the nation's biggest banks are starting to charge fees to debit card holders for using certain bank accounts.

It seems a wave of fees is inundating consumers - but there is shelter from the storm.

Some financial institutions, like Dupaco Community Credit Union, are standing firm on their fee-free account access policies. At Dupaco, free checking remains free. There's no monthly fee, no debit card fee, no minimum balance requirement and no direct deposit requirement.

With so many changes - and charges - facing consumers these days, Carrie Minor, a senior loan officer at Dupaco's Williams Boulevard branch in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, advises financial services customers to get the 411 on fees.

"(Consumers should) ask their financial institution if there are any kinds of charges for having a debit card or usage of their debit card," Minor said. Find out if there is a usage limit when fees kick in, or if your financial institution requires a minimum balance to stave off charges.

Minor offers these other tips to help you navigate through today's minefield of fees:

  • Pay close attention to your financial statements to see whether any fees are being assessed to your accounts. Even if your financial institution told you there will be no fees, it's good to see for yourself.
  • If your financial institution has imposed debit card and checking account fees, find out whether there are ways to avoid the charges. Or, consider looking elsewhere. Free checking accounts and debit cards still exist.
  • If you're looking to switch financial institutions, keep your original account open for at least a couple of weeks to make sure all of your automatic payments and deposits transitioned correctly into your new account.

By Emily Kittle

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