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I've been with Wells Fargo for my workhorse checking account since I graduated high school. The only thing I like about them is their wide ATM availability and the fact that most of their ATMs allow check/cash deposits. It's time for a change.

I like the fact that WF has a lot of ATMs all over the place, but if you're ever stuck somewhere without one and you need to use another bank's ATM, you're pretty screwed. You get to pay the ATM fee plus WF's $2.50 fee for using an outside ATM. Heaven forbid you're outside the USA, you'll pay $5 per ATM transaction.

I'm not looking to earn interest or bonuses off this account or anything, I just want some truly free checking that has widely available free ATM usage, preferably with ATMs that take deposits. Does this exist anymore? Or possibly a bank that will readily refund ATM fees imposed by outside ATMs?

If it matters I typically keep $5,000-$10,000 in my checking account.   Also I live in northern NJ and work in NYC.

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Fidelity said I had to have $10 in my brokerage account before allowing me to make mobile deposits in my checking accoun... (more)

qcumber98 (Sep. 20, 2016 @ 2:57p) |

Not carrying $500-1000 around with me isn't an "irrational fear" (although cash is certainly riskier than plastic), but ... (more)

cestmoi123 (Sep. 20, 2016 @ 4:03p) |

They don't have CREDIT cards but they almost all have a DEBIT card, most of which have Visa/MC logos on it.  Even many p... (more)

RedWolfe01 (Sep. 20, 2016 @ 9:38p) |

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Try Ally. It uses cardtronics ATMs which are all over. Unlimited checks as well.

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Schwab. Zero fees for any ATM on earth. You pay the ATM fee and are refunded it at the end of the month.

Cannot deposit cash easily but checks deposit via app and clear in an hour or less for me.

Keep the wells checking for ATM cash deposits if you have a lot of those. Pull the money over to Schwab via online transfer.

Edit: no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirement. Free checks. Free stops on checks. Free...everything pretty much.

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For Brick and Mortar, PNC is free and rebates ATM fees if you have enough deposited. They also run the Quickchek and Wawa ATMs so there are a lot of them in North Jersey.

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Alliant is great. Their ATM network is a hybrid of Allpoint and the credit union Co-Op network. If you go out of network, your first $20 in fees each month are refunded.

My mobile deposits are generally available immediately; I can't remember what the threshold is offhand that triggers a hold on the deposit. I could probably do better than .65% on checking, but their 1% on savings is not bad, and they have treated me well over the last five years.

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fidelity is also good.

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protomenace said:   I've been with Wells Fargo for my workhorse checking account since I graduated high school. The only thing I like about them is their wide ATM availability and the fact that most of their ATMs allow check/cash deposits. It's time for a change.

I like the fact that WF has a lot of ATMs all over the place, but if you're ever stuck somewhere without one and you need to use another bank's ATM, you're pretty screwed. You get to pay the ATM fee plus WF's $2.50 fee for using an outside ATM. Heaven forbid you're outside the USA, you'll pay $5 per ATM transaction.

I'm not looking to earn interest or bonuses off this account or anything, I just want some truly free checking that has widely available free ATM usage, preferably with ATMs that take deposits. Does this exist anymore? Or possibly a bank that will readily refund ATM fees imposed by outside ATMs?

If it matters I typically keep $5,000-$10,000 in my checking account.   Also I live in northern NJ and work in NYC.


Since you don't mention brick and mortar as a requirement, I second the suggestion for Schwab bank checking account or Fidelity cash account.  Schwab reimburses ATM fees at the end of the month, Fidelity reimburses ATM fees as soon as they post.  Both offer 0% FTF so are great for travel anywhere in the world. 

 

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Stubtify said:   Schwab. Zero fees for any ATM on earth. You pay the ATM fee and are refunded it at the end of the month.

Cannot deposit cash easily but checks deposit via app and clear in an hour or less for me.

Keep the wells checking for ATM cash deposits if you have a lot of those. Pull the money over to Schwab via online transfer.

Edit: no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirement. Free checks. Free stops on checks. Free...everything pretty much.


I have exactly this setup, Wells Fargo free account (I have a mortgage) for ATM access and Schwab as a primary bank. 

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Doctor of Credit website has a list of candidates in a couple of formats. Lots of detailed opinions and requirement details.

http://www.doctorofcredit.com/best-bank-account-bonuses/
http://www.doctorofcredit.com/current-bank-sign-bonuses/

I like Santander Bank in your area as long as you make at least one transaction per month. Lots of Internet advertising coupon offers. Better than going online directly.

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I just set my daughter up with an Alliant account for her to use at college. As someone mentioned above, she'll get the first $20 of ATM charges refunded, and I'm hoping that if she uses one of the school's ATMs no more than once every week or two that should cover it. For check deposits, you can just use the iPhone/Android app.

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Agree with both Fidelity & Schwab--both rebate ATM fees.  My only caveat is that if you need notary services or Medallion signature guarantees or deposit cash frequently, you'll need to maintain another banking relationship unless you have a local Fidelity or Schwab branch in your town.

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devyanks90 said:   For Brick and Mortar, PNC is free and rebates ATM fees if you have enough deposited. They also run the Quickchek and Wawa ATMs so there are a lot of them in North Jersey.
I second PNC. I will add that they also have great customer service, and their technology/features are pretty cutting edge.

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With Schwab you have to open a brokerage acct.

Do I need to open a Schwab One brokerage account with my Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account?
Yes. The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account is only available when linked to a Schwab One brokerage account. The two accounts may be opened at the same time. The two accounts will be linked, so you can easily transfer funds between them to meet both your investing and checking needs. While you're under no obligation to use the Schwab One brokerage account, you may find it very convenient. And, you can enjoy the benefits of investing with Schwab brokerage at no additional cost.

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What's an ATM?

I'm kidding, of course, but really, I'd wager that ATMs will all but disappear in the next decade.  There's just little need for them anymore.

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Fidelity. Pays back first few transaction fees. Checking is truly free.

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dcwilbur said:   What's an ATM?

I'm kidding, of course, but really, I'd wager that ATMs will all but disappear in the next decade.  There's just little need for them anymore.

I agree with you for the most part. I now use an ATM just 3-4 times per year -- for the few occasions I'm going somewhere they don't take CCs. Those places are dwindling as well, even the sports stadium parking takes CCs now.

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dcwilbur said:   What's an ATM?

I'm kidding, of course, but really, I'd wager that ATMs will all but disappear in the next decade.  There's just little need for them anymore.


I very much doubt that.  Still 60-70 million adults in the US without a credit card, and cash remains the most popular medium for transactions (although it's a much smaller share of total $ of spending).

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zapjb said:   With Schwab you have to open a brokerage acct.

Do I need to open a Schwab One brokerage account with my Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account?
Yes. The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account is only available when linked to a Schwab One brokerage account. The two accounts may be opened at the same time. The two accounts will be linked, so you can easily transfer funds between them to meet both your investing and checking needs. While you're under no obligation to use the Schwab One brokerage account, you may find it very convenient. And, you can enjoy the benefits of investing with Schwab brokerage at no additional cost.

  

My Schwab One brokerage account sat empty and unused for 3-4 years without issue. Eventually I used them for a some investment accounts and have found them very cost effective for that as well. My guess is the free checking account is the "free toaster" to try and get you to use some more profitable services. 

As for the free checking, it is awesome. Used while overseas for years. Still use as my backup ATM when I can't find my everyday bank's ATM and don't want to pay a fee.

But, the best use case was that I needed to pay my rent in cash while living in Japan, so once a month I'd call Schwab (collect) and they'd temporarily raise my cash withdrawal limit to US$4,000 for an hour or two...and I'd use a local Japanese ATM to pull out the equivalent in yen (with an EXCELLENT exchange rate). Was by far the cheapest way of paying my rent and required minimal effort. Usually called from my mobile phone while walking to the ATM down the block.

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cestmoi123 said:   
dcwilbur said:   What's an ATM?

I'm kidding, of course, but really, I'd wager that ATMs will all but disappear in the next decade.  There's just little need for them anymore.


I very much doubt that.  Still 60-70 million adults in the US without a credit card, and cash remains the most popular medium for transactions (although it's a much smaller share of total $ of spending).

I agree there are a many people without credit cards.  There are also many people without bank accounts.  There are also many people who like to use cash.  You're telling me that those people are using ATMs?  That doesn't really compute.  If I'm off the radar, how/why would I use an ATM?  If you are referring to those people who deposit cash in an ATM and then are lining up a few days later to take it back out $20 at a time, well, that's just silly.


 

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Stubtify said:   Schwab. Zero fees for any ATM on earth. You pay the ATM fee and are refunded it at the end of the month.

Cannot deposit cash easily but checks deposit via app and clear in an hour or less for me.

Keep the wells checking for ATM cash deposits if you have a lot of those. Pull the money over to Schwab via online transfer.

Edit: no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirement. Free checks. Free stops on checks. Free...everything pretty much.

I second this.  Schwab is great.  In the unlikely event you have to talk to someone they are very friendly and helpful.

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Unless something has changed even local Schwab branches won't take cash. You'd have to convert it to something like a MO and deposit that at the local branch (or via mobile app).

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Fidelity Investments will not take Money Orders.

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dcwilbur said:   What's an ATM?

I'm kidding, of course, but really, I'd wager that ATMs will all but disappear in the next decade.  There's just little need for them anymore.

  

Agreed. They are mostly for people who either have an irrational fear of carrying cash or can't trust themselves not to spend it when they have it. Just take out $500 or $1000 and work off that until it's gone. Rinse and repeat.

With the exception of foreign travel- I probably use the domestic ATM once a year or less.

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dcwilbur said:   I agree there are a many people without credit cards.  There are also many people without bank accounts.  There are also many people who like to use cash.  You're telling me that those people are using ATMs?

 


No.  They are telling you that the people who pay the unbanked folks with  cash will continue to use ATMs to obtain that cash.  

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Fidelity said I had to have $10 in my brokerage account before allowing me to make mobile deposits in my checking account.

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TravelerMSY said:   
dcwilbur said:   What's an ATM?

I'm kidding, of course, but really, I'd wager that ATMs will all but disappear in the next decade.  There's just little need for them anymore.

  

Agreed. They are mostly for people who either have an irrational fear of carrying cash or can't trust themselves not to spend it when they have it. Just take out $500 or $1000 and work off that until it's gone. Rinse and repeat.

With the exception of foreign travel- I probably use the domestic ATM once a year or less.

Not carrying $500-1000 around with me isn't an "irrational fear" (although cash is certainly riskier than plastic), but also the fact that I don't want to look like the hunchback of Notre Dame with a wallet that will barely fold.

Even if you ignore all non-in-person transactions (mortgage, utilities, online, etc.), cash is maybe 10% of my spending, so it takes a long time for me to go through the $200 I grab from the ATM. 

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zapjb said:   With Schwab you have to open a brokerage acct.

Do I need to open a Schwab One brokerage account with my Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account?
Yes. The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account is only available when linked to a Schwab One brokerage account. The two accounts may be opened at the same time. The two accounts will be linked, so you can easily transfer funds between them to meet both your investing and checking needs. While you're under no obligation to use the Schwab One brokerage account, you may find it very convenient. And, you can enjoy the benefits of investing with Schwab brokerage at no additional cost.

  

Actually you don't have to open a checking account at all, the Brokerage account has almost all the same features.  By using the Brokerage directly I don't have to move funds between the two.  Its been a while since I opened my current account (I had one in the past as well, back before they founded Schwab Bank) however.
cestmoi123 said: I very much doubt that. Still 60-70 million adults in the US without a credit card, and cash remains the most popular medium for transactions (although it's a much smaller share of total $ of spending).

They don't have CREDIT cards but they almost all have a DEBIT card, most of which have Visa/MC logos on it.  Even many panhandlers and bums do, hidden with their prepaid cell phones - so they can collect their disability checks.  I mean how are they going to use an ATM machine if they don't?

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