A man uses his contactless payment debit card from Fifth Third Bank.

Is Free Checking Really Free?


Is your free checking account really free? Here are the ins and outs to know if you’re getting what you signed up for.

An old saying holds that "nothing in life is free." Does that also hold true for "free" checking?

The answer is: It depends. Yes, free checking is often free in the sense that you won’t have to pay monthly maintenance fees for most "free" checking accounts. But there are also usually some conditions attached that you will have to meet in order to qualify for that fee-free checking status. Those conditions can include signing up for direct deposit or for opening a second type of account with the same institution. And there may be hidden fees, too.

What is a free checking account? Ideally, this type of account is one that doesn't charge recurring fees, such as a monthly maintenance fee.There are no extra conditions with a no-fee Fifth Third Momentum® Checking Account from Fifth Third Bank. The Fifth Third Momentum® account comes with a Fifth Third Momentum® contactless debit card that allows for touch-free purchases and zero liability for unauthorized purchases. Best of all, there is no minimum balance requirement, no minimum deposit, and the account can be used with a network of 40,000 fee-free ATMs, so you can get cash anytime you need it.

Why is it important to have a free checking account? Having a free checking account is a great way to save money and put yourself on the path toward financial security. Traditional checking account maintenance fees typically run up to $15 a month, according to consumer finance website NerdWallet. By simply switching to a free Fifth Third Momentum® Checking Account, you could save up to $180 per year.

You can use a free checking account to manage your monthly bills, make deposits, and access branches or ATM machines.

Nearly half (46%) of non-interest checking accounts are free, according to a recent study by Bankrate. In addition to benefiting from the deposits, banks often see free checking accounts as a start to a relationship with consumers who may open other types of accounts later.

If you are considering a free checking account, it is important to understand the benefits as well as the possible extra requirements in order for the bank to continue waiving its fees. The bank must disclose any fees or requirements to you when you open the account.

Check for Possible Hidden Fees

Even if a "free" checking account does not have monthly fees, it may have annual fees or other hidden fees. For example, some accounts charge overdraft fees, where consumers must pay a penalty, usually around $35, each time they unintentionally spend more than their account balance. With a Fifth Third Momentum® account, you can avoid overdraft fees with Extra Time2, which gives you an extra business day to make a deposit to cover the overdraft.

There are other types of fees that also can add up on some of those "free" accounts. Those might include non-bank ATM fees, stop-payment fees on checks, or fees for using online bill pay. Still, nearly all Americans (more than 95%, according to GoBankingRates.com) have a checking account, making it the most common account type owned.

More Free Benefits of a Momentum Checking Account

In addition to enjoying free checking, the Fifth Third Momentum® Checking Account can give you early access to your paycheck with Early Pay. When you sign up for free direct deposit, you can get your paycheck up to two days early, without any fee.

In addition to benefiting from no-fee Fifth Third Momentum Checking, you might also consider opening a Fifth Third Momentum® Savings Account, which works hand-in-hand with the checking account to take the hard work out of saving. If you are saving for a new car, vacation, or just building an emergency fund, for example, Fifth Third’s Smart Savings lets you designate how much money you want to save each week or month, then moves the money automatically from your checking account to your savings account without you having to remember to transfer funds.

Free Checking with Fifth Third’s Momentum Banking

For those who want to strengthen money habits now to reach long-term financial wellness.

  • NO monthly service fee
  • NO minimum balance requirements
  • NO fees at over 40,000 partner ATMs nationwide1
  • Extra Time® to help avoid overdraft fees2
  • Access to money when you need it.

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