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This is for people who just use a checking account to pay some bills and perhaps use a debit card to pay some daily expenses. Some basic accounts require direct deposit or a minimum balance to avoid monthly “maintenance” fees. You may be limited to a certain number of checks per month; exceed that number and you’ll pay a “per item” fee for each additional check you write. You don’t want to maintain a high balance in these accounts because you won’t be paid interest.
A free checking account is “no monthly service charges or per-item fees regardless of balance or activity.” Free checking doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay any fees. If you bounce a check, you’ll pay a nonsufficient funds fee (NSF).
These accounts usually need a minimum balance to open, and you may need to maintain an even higher balance to avoid fees. For example, a bank may require just $50 to open an account, but will charge $5 in service fees each month if you don’t maintain a $1,000 balance. Interest usually is paid monthly, but these accounts pay a notoriously low interest rate, and don’t suit most.
An account owned by two or more people with each co-owner having equal access to the account. Most types of accounts, whether it’s basic checking, savings or money market, allow for joint use.