4 Checking Accounts You May Not Know Exist

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Getty ImagesIf you don't qualify for a traditional checking account, a fresh start checking account give you a second chance.
By Tony Armstrong

Most banks rave about the advantages their checking accounts offer, such as high interest rates, low minimum balances or free services such as online banking. All those accounts appeal to the same general banking public. Other accounts, though, focus on unusual benefits and target specific groups.

Here's a look at four specialty checking accounts that could meet your particular needs.

Kasasa Tunes

Although some checking accounts give cash back or debit card rewards, Kasasa Tunes targets a younger crowd by offering refunds for digital downloads from iTunes, Google Play or Amazon. The amount may be $10 each month, in addition to a sign-up bonus of up to $25, but the exact refund amount varies by financial institution.

Kasasa is a nationwide brand of free checking accounts developed by Texas-based marketing company BancVue for community banks and credit unions. The Tunes account offers free online and mobile banking services and refunds for a limited amount of ATM fees. It also doesn't have monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. To qualify for the perks, you usually need to fulfill requirements such as making at least 10 debit card purchases per month and registering for online statements and mobile banking.

Nonprofit Checking

If you help run a nonprofit, such as a charity, church or community gardening club, you might consider an account specifically for your type of organization. Unlike other business checking accounts, nonprofit accounts often come with no monthly maintenance fees and a higher number of free transactions per statement. U.S. Bank, for instance, provides 1,800 free transactions each year for its standard nonprofit checking account, compared to 500 for its premium business checking account. There may be other waived fees and free services as well.

To qualify for this type of checking, you usually need to confirm your organization's nonprofit status as tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eligibility requirements can vary by financial institution, and not all banks or credit unions offer these accounts.

Second Chance Checking

Some people don't qualify for checking accounts because, in the past, they had an account closed for things like failing to pay bank fees. To get them back on track, financial institutions offer second chance checking accounts, sometimes called "fresh start checking." Although some big banks like Wells Fargo have them, it's usually easier to find them at smaller institutions.

These accounts usually come with a monthly fee. They don't offer overdraft protection programs, since overdrawing an account can often be the first step toward account closures. Another requirement may include attending a financial literacy class. After a year or two of building up credit and banking histories, people may become eligible for traditional checking accounts.

Senior Checking

These accounts are available to people around 50 or 60 years old, with the age minimum varying by institution. Since this demographic tends to rely more on traditional banking than younger generations, senior checking products usually provide free or discounted rates for paper checks.

Fees can be more easily waived with this type of account than with other accounts. Although senior checking may help save money, there can be a high balance requirement, such as $5,000 in some cases, to waive monthly maintenance fees.

It can be a great idea to find a niche checking account, says Carrie Houchins-Witt, a certified financial planner in Coralville, Iowa. "But just make sure that you're not paying more for an account like that," she says.

Traditional checking accounts can fulfill most banking needs. Specialty checking accounts like these listed above, though, may fit your precise situation and save you money at the same time.

-Spencer Tierney of NerdWallet contributed to this report.

Tony Armstrong is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a website devoted to helping consumers make smart financial decisions.
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