Cut your bank fees

By Jen Haley, producer

NEW YORK ( -- Free checking at your bank may be a thing of the past soon. If you're tired of changing rules, higher fees and stricter requirements, you don't have to take it anymore.

Find an alternative.

Online banks are a better deal than their brick-and-mortar counterparts by most measures. They generally have lower fees and smaller minimum balance requirements. And interest rates can be a lot higher, especially on Internet-only banks.

Recently, Consumer Reports rated seven of the largest online banks. They include ING Direct, HSBC Direct, Citibank and Capital One. Just make sure that the bank you choose is a member of the FDIC, or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This way you know your money is insured up to $250,000.

Credit Unions offer another popular alternative to large banks. Credit unions may have marginally better interest rates and rates on CDs, savings accounts and money markets.

Becoming a member of a credit union is usually based on where you live, who you work for, what you do for a living, or what religious community you belong to. Credit unions service those in the military, teachers, firefighters, policeman and people who work for specific companies.

To find out if you're eligible to join a credit union, go to And make sure the credit union is insured by the National Credit Union Administration -- that's the credit union's equivalent of the FDIC. Your money is insured up to the same limits as with a traditional bank.

Talkback: Would you use an online bank for your checking account? To top of page

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