According to the latest MoneyRates.com Bank Fees Survey, only about one-third of checking accounts are free of monthly maintenance charges. However, in some cases, the fees on other accounts can be waived if consumers maintain certain minimum balances or use other bank services, such as paperless statements or direct deposit.As options for free checking dwindle, more banking customers may seek out alternatives to big banks. Online banks and credit unions often provide free checking options, and as a bonus, savings account interest rates and CD rates may also be higher at these institutions. It remains to be seen whether consumer resistance will eventually stem the tide of new service charges at major banks. So for now, big bank customers may want to keep a close eye on their monthly statements.