The availability of free
checking accounts in the US has fallen only very slightly,
according to the latest MoneyRates Index, a twice a year survey of
100 of the largest US retail banks.

While free checking in
the US has been in decline, more than one-third of the lenders
surveyed continue to offer a checking account without a monthly
service fee.

In January, 37.7% of the
checking accounts in the MoneyRates Index were free of monthly
service fees. As of July 2011, that figure was down to

The July report also
highlighted that, since it conducted its US bank fee survey in
January, the average minimum balance requirement to avoid fees have
fallen lower and average monthly checking account maintenance fees
(for those who pay them) have also declined slightly.

On the other hand,
average overdraft fees have increased while using another bank’s
ATMs costs has also risen.

Between the January and
July surveys, the average minimum to open an account dropped by
20%, from $517.41 to $412.53.