Free checking, once standard, is going the way of the VCR — a recent study found that the number of financial institutions offering it is down 11 percent from a year ago. But if your bank starts charging, you have other options:
Without the overhead cost of brick-and-mortar branches, Internet banks can still afford free checking. Check out Ally, ING Direct and Everbank, all of them FDIC members. There are others — but make sure that any Internet bank you use is FDIC-insured.
Many credit unions, which are nonprofit and organized to benefit members rather than shareholders, still offer free checking.