Most people when they think of banking accounts don't budget for the excess fees the banks charge but perhaps they should. According to, many people end up paying into the hundreds of dollars each year because of these unexpected charges that come up. If you've been hit with banking fees, you've probably realized how easy it is to see a small balance depleted within days. There are several strategies that can help you to avoid paying those extra charges so you can end up with a fee-free online checking account.

Determine Your Needs:

One of the first things you need to do before opening a checking account is to decide exactly what services you will need. There are many different types of checking accounts to choose from so it pays to pick and choose the one that will serve your unique needs the best. Some prefer to keep it simple with a straight checking and bill pay account that gives them ATM privileges. These accounts don't require a minimum balance and you're not charged a fee after you complete a number of transactions. These are usually non-interest bearing accounts and depending on the bank, may come with a monthly fee. However, it is possible to find some banks that will offer this basic account for free if you meet other requirements.

Comparison Shop:

Once you know what you need, start searching different online banks for those accounts that can meet your expectations. Even if you open a checking account you can easily avoid check printing fees by opting to use your debit or credit card instead of checks. These are convenient and can be used in most stores without added fees. Make sure that you choose a bank that has plenty of ATMs so you won't get stuck using an out of system machine and incurring added fees. By opting to use a debit card you can avoid many fees that can come up unexpectedly.

Overdraft Protection:

If you want to maintain a fee-free online checking account, overdraft protection is an absolute must. Money travels quickly these days and it's easy to see your account funds depleted before your next payday. With automatic bill pay available the possibility is even more likely so using a credit card when your funds get low is a great way to protect yourself from those huge fees the banks charge for paying your bill for you. If you don't have the credit to cover the overages, however, you will need a credit card or a line of credit to cover the expenses but once that's set up, you'll be amazed at how much fees you can avoid this way.

While most banks do not offer fee-free online checking account it is possible to have one. You just have to be smart and think ahead to make sure that those charges do not come your way. By maintaining a minimum balance, using only your bank's ATMs, and covering your balance with overdraft protection it is very possible to go for quite a while with your bank without incurring any fees.