U.S. Bank may end free checking

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. Bank is one of the last of the megabanks to offer free checking. But that may be about to end.

The Minneapolis-based bank recently hinted that it will add fees to its checking accounts -- and even possibly to its debit cards -- as it attempts to recoup revenue lost under new regulations.

"We're not going to be a late follower anymore, we're going to be right in the game ... we no longer have the luxury of waiting," said U.S. Bank (USB, Fortune 500) CEO Richard Davis on a recent earnings call with investors. "We'll see sometime in the early or middle part of this year our own actions in making sure that we have fair pricing for our checking products."

The bank is currently gauging the success of its competition to figure out "what consumers are willing to accept as a price to have a checking account, a debit card or some of the ancillary products that go with it," he added.

Most of the megabanks -- including Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Citi (C, Fortune 500), Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) -- have already taken the plunge, doing away with free checking and introducing monthly maintenance fees to accounts.

"Like many banks, we are assessing our products and services in light of changing industry dynamics," a U.S. Bank spokeswoman said in a statement. "We will be communicating with customers in the next few months, well in advance of any changes."

The spokeswoman said details have not been finalized or announced and that "there will continue to be many options for customers to have a checking account without a monthly maintenance fee."

Maintenance fees can often be avoided if you meet certain requirements -- like making a certain number of deposits, carrying a minimum balance or using your debit card a specific number of times. To top of page

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