Checking Account Fees: How Much They Are and How You Can Avoid Them

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

Updated on Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Checking account fees can really add up if you’re not paying attention. Common charges include monthly maintenance, overdraft and ATM fees. However, there is good news: Not all checking accounts are created equal. There are an array of options with minimal (or even no) fees as well as simple steps you may be able to take to waive or minimize fees.

Here’s our list of what you should know about checking account fees.

Average checking account fees

We found that the average checking account monthly maintenance fee at the 10 biggest U.S. banks comes out to an average of $11.80. While financial institutions tout the convenience of their checking accounts, they may also tack on an array of fees for everything from keeping the account open to getting cash out of an ATM.

The chart below outlines the monthly maintenance fees for the mid-tier checking account options (which tend to have all of the essentials checking accounts are known to offer, but for minimal fees) at the 10 of the biggest banks in the U.S., as determined by assets under management per and broad availability nationwide. Note that these banks may waive the monthly maintenance fee if certain requirements are met, such as making direct deposits of a certain amount of money each month, keeping a minimum balance or linking a savings account with the same institution.

Average Checking Account Fees at the Biggest Banks in the U.S.
BankAccountMonthly Maintenance Fee
Chase Bank Total Checking $12
Bank of America Advantage Plus $12
Wells Fargo Bank Everyday Checking $10
Citi Basic Banking $12
US BankGold Checking$14.95
BB&T Bright Banking $12
PNC Bank Virtual Wallet with Performance Spend$15
TD Bank Convenience Checking$15
Capital One 360 Checking $0
HSBCChoice Checking$15

Types of checking account fees

You could easily rack up more than $50 in fees in one month if you don’t meet the requirements to waive the monthly maintenance fee, take a couple withdrawals from other banks and incur an overdraft on your account. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the laundry list of fees that you should be on the lookout for when shopping for a checking account.

Below are the most common types of checking account fees you may incur:

  • Monthly maintenance fee: As highlighted in the above table, this monthly service fee is the amount that your bank charges you simply for maintaining your account (or not meeting certain deposit or balance requirements).
  • ATM fee: You can get charged with this fee for taking money (or even simply checking your balance) at an ATM that is outside your bank’s network.
  • Overdraft fee: Also called a nonsufficient funds (NSF) fee, this is what you get charged when you make a transaction that is worth more money than the funds you have in your account.
  • Returned deposit item: You could face this fee for trying to deposit a check that bounces.
  • Per check fee: Banks may charge you this fee for writing a check.
  • Check printing fee: You can get slapped with this fee when you purchase checks from your bank.
  • Stop payment fee: This fee could be charged if you need to cancel a check that you already wrote before it is paid out.
  • Debit card replacement fee: If you lose your physical debit card, your bank may charge you a fee to replace it.

Note that the exact fees for checking accounts may vary by location.

How to avoid checking account fees

In many cases, checking account fees can easily be avoided — or at least minimized — by taking a few extra steps. To avoid checking account fees, try the following strategies:

  • Meet the monthly requirements to get fees waived: Many checking accounts will waive your monthly maintenance fee if you meet certain requirements, such as enrolling in paper statements, maintaining a certain balance or making a certain number of transactions or direct deposits per month. Make the extra effort to meet these monthly requirements if you do not want to pay your monthly service fee.
  • Be selective when it comes to choosing an account: When looking for a new checking account, it pays to shop around. Brick-and-mortar banks typically charge much higher fees than online banks or credit unions. Compare different checking accounts and the fees associated with them before settling on one. (And check out the section below for a round-up of some of the no-fee checking accounts out there).
  • Utilize available tools to avoid fees: Your bank likely has an array of tools available that can help you minimize fees, so be sure to use them. For example, if you want to avoid paying an ATM fee, many banks offer ATM locators within their apps that will show you where the nearest in-network ATM is. Meanwhile, if you want to avoid overdraft fees, many banks allow you to enable alerts that will notify you if a certain transaction may put you in the red.
  • Ask about available discounts: A number of financial institutions waive fees on checking accounts if you are a teen, student or senior citizen. Ask your bank about available fee waivers that are offered.
  • Consider disputing a fee: Finally, if you’ve been a long-standing customer and you’re charged a fee for the first time, it’s worth your time to contact your bank to explain what happened and see if they’ll waive that fee.

No-fee checking accounts

If you’re looking to avoid checking account fees, perhaps one of the easiest ways to do so is to simply choose a no-fee checking account. While many of the big, brick-and-mortar banks charge monthly maintenance fees, online banks and local credit unions often charge minimal monthly maintenance fees, if any.

The chart below outlines our top picks for checking accounts, many of which not only have no monthly maintenance fee, but also perks like competitive APY rates, ATM fee reimbursements and even cashback rewards. These accounts were all pulled from our top picks for checking accounts overall.

Checking Accounts With No Fees
BankAccount nameMonthly maintenance fee
Ally BankInterest Checking$0
Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking $0
Axos BankRewards Checking $0
Discover BankCashback Debit $0
Radius Bank Rewards Checking$0
Simple Simple Checking$0
All information included in this profile is accurate as of 11/24/2020.