A low minimum balance is all you need to waive the fee. BTW banks are in the business of making money, not of providing a free service to its customers. Go to Home Depot and see if they will give you 3 nails for free.
A lot of banks have started to increase fees to offset both the low interest rate the fed has kept short term rates at and recent limits/ elimination of fees they can charge for various things such as ATM and overdraft fees. This had caused them to reevaluate what products are profitable such as depository accounts that average a lower balance than they deem they need. The theory is that the smaller depositors/low value accounts will either pay the fees or leave. Most banks have loss leader products so you should be able to find a competitor with a better deal on their checking account products. In particular, savings banks and smaller institutions are likely going to be offering some low fee and no fee products that would be a good alternative.