Biz Brief: The End of Free Checking?

Free checking accounts have been around so long they have become an American institution. The financial reform act that is now making its way through Congress includes some consumer provisions that may cut some bank fees. In order to make up for lost income, banks could cut free checking on many accounts.

According toReuters, "The move is expected to hurt retail clients who could be asked to pay new monthly maintenance fees on the most basic accounts that do not generate a lot of activity." Customers may be forced to keep large balances -- from which banks make a modest interest -- as a part of free checking privileges.

The news service added that "banks incur an expense of between $250 and $300 a year to maintain each of the roughly 200 million checking accounts." The consumer protections in the new legislation may eventually be good for Americans, but in the meantime, many could lose their most common bank benefit.
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