Q&A: How can 'free checking' be 'free' if there are bank fees?

Consumer Reports

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Q: When I signed up in 2001 for my ­checking account, they offered "free checking for life." In 2012, they started charging fees. How can they do that? —Gary Bortner Plymouth, MN

A: Bank fees are generally governed by the account-opening agreement, which usually states that the terms, including fees, may change at any time. Banks aren't prohibited from changing or adding fees as long as consumers get at least 30 days' notice.

Check your original paperwork carefully. Many credit unions and small banks offer free checking and excellent deals. They frequently offer a lot of ATM options through networks with other institutions, often free of charge.

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