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TheStreet Open House

Check Out Your Checking Account Options

You probably have a checking account or two, but chances are you haven't paid much attention to it recently.

Well, this might be a good time to re-examine your account to see whether it's really right for you. When considering your checking options, make sure you pay attention to the fees and other details in the fine print before you make your first deposit.

Look in particular for the following terms:

Monthly Maintenance

Very few institutions actually admit that they charge a flat fee for their checking accounts. However, a "maintenance" fee often lurks in the background. The fee is frequently on the order of $10 to $20, and is charged monthly unless certain criteria are met -- typically a required minimum balance.

BankingMyWay

Check Card

This is the card that usually carries a Visa (V) or MasterCard (MA) logo and acts as a debit card. Read the fine print and the terms to make sure you aren't getting charged fees on it that you don't expect.

Required Minimum Balance

Many accounts require you to maintain a balance ranging from a few hundred dollars in noninterest-paying accounts to several thousand dollars in the case of high-yielding accounts. Drop below this minimum, and the bank may charge a fee or stop paying interest on the account.

But the cost of a minimum balance requirement isn't just in the fees -- consider the opportunity cost of leaving that money untouched for the years that you might hold that account.

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