Free Checking Becomes "Easy" Money for US Bank

Sarah Gilbert

The concept of "free checking" has always been somewhat fraught with inaccuracies. Yes, you may have an account that doesn't have a monthly fee, but if you review your annual statements, you may discover that you have, indeed, paid for this, whether it's an amazingly high cost for checks (does it really cost $30 to print six paper booklets?); a number of $35 overdraft fees for a transaction that may have cost the bank a few cents or fractions thereof; and those "convenience" fees for using other banks' ATMs.

For as many years as anyone can remember, most U.S. banks have earned the vast majority of their money from fees to consumers. And for years, US Bank was behind the curve, only scoring its fees from the traditional punitive sources, with nothing regular it could count on.

But now the bank is switching to "Easy Checking" as of May 15, as The Consumerist reports. But even this "easy" service can get confusing: It's $6.95 per month for the regular easy service, $8.95 if you refuse online statements, and free if you keep a minimum balance of $1,500 or make $500 in direct deposits each month. This isn't much different from the basic offerings from other banks, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which gave up free checking ages ago.