Only 39 percent of noninterest checking accounts are free to all customers, according to a survey by financial data publisher Bankrate.com. That’s down from 45 percent last year and 76 percent in 2009.
Seventy-two percent of those surveyed said they would consider switching banks if theirs raised its fees on checking accounts. Consumers who practice good financial habits can avoid ATM and overdraft fees. And checking account charges can be ducked by getting the fee waived through direct deposit or moving to a bank or credit union that offers free checking.