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Bank accounts 24 Jan 2018

Free checking is still alive

Around seven years ago, in the wake of recently enacted regulatory changes, the availability of free checking accounts started a slow descent into oblivion as banks grappled with how to adjust business models.

Fast forward to today, and banks are still grappling with the issue, as evidenced by a recent bank’s announcement that it would be eliminating its free checking account and moving customers into an account charging a $12 monthly fee  – unless the customer maintains a direct deposit of $250 or more, or a minimum daily balance of $1,500

The maintenance fees for free checking accounts are paid for the consumer by the bank. These fees can be quite hefty. Before the financial crisis, this cost was absorbed by the financial institution, which made the money back in the form of other fees. With new regulations, like the Durbin amendment, many of those fees were modified or eliminated.

The maintenance fees for free checking accounts are paid for the consumer by the bank.

After the crisis, many banks offered customers waivers by which they could avoid fees on checking accounts, some of which included direct deposit and balance requirements. Still, other banks offered accounts where the customer agreed to not use the in-person services of the branch, but bank completely by digital means.

BBVA Compass, on the other hand, began offering a completely free checking account in 2015, dubbed BBVA Compass ClearChoice Free Checking.

BBVA Compass, on the other hand, began offering a completely free checking account in 2015, dubbed BBVA Compass ClearChoice Free Checking. With BBVA Compass ClearChoice Free Checking, customers pay no monthly Service Charge and get free full-service features, which include:

  • No ATM fees at BBVA Compass ATMs
  • Free Online Banking and Mobile Banking, plus Mobile Deposit® and Bill Pay
  • One Free Visa® Debit Card per account holder:
    • Personalize with your favorite photo(1)
    • Easily keep track of your purchases and get instant transaction alerts on the go with BBVA Wallet(2)
    • Earn cash back rewards for everyday debit card purchases with Simple Cash BackSM
  • Free customizable alerts(3)
  • Free online and paper statements
  • Free unlimited check writing

Customers with extended banking needs have the option to customize the account and pay a nominal monthly fee for additional features – unlimited check supply and rebates at non BBVA Compass ATMs among them.

Retail banking in recent years has withstood a barrage of changes from outside and inside the industry, including regulatory pressure and nimble fintech competitors seeking to take a chunk of its value chain. As the industry continues to adapt its business model while meeting customer needs, product set changes like the one another bank recently outlined is a trend that will likely continue.

For more on BBVA Compass ClearChoice Free Checking, click here.


Accounts subject to approval, which may include credit approval.  $25 minimum opening deposit required.  See account Terms & Conditions for additional details.

1 Personalized Debit Card: One per account holder at no additional charge. $10 per each additional card.

2 Alerts: Alerts for card transactions and reward redemption are subject to service availability to your mobile device and cannot be guaranteed by BBVA Compass. Alerts are subject to merchant billing practices and may not be received until your card is charged for the purchase price.

3 Text Message Alerts: Message and data rates may apply. Please check with your wireless carrier about such fees.

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