I had a checking account at US Bank for more than ten years. When I signed up, I filled out forms for a “free checking for life” account. Last year, they decided to start charging a monthly fee. I closed the account. While there was no option to keep my free checking for life at US Bank, I have found many banks that offer free accounts.
Update August 12, 2013 – PerkStreet financial has ceased operations, so this list now only contains three banks.
Capital One 360
Capital One 360, formerly ING Direct, is a bank with great features and no fees. I have had my 360 Checking, formerly Orange Checking, since December, 2007.
My favorite features at Capital One 360 are the online features. You can send money to other ING customers instantly and transfer money between ING and other bank account for free. ING also features automatic savings plans, bill pay, and great mobile features including mobile check deposits.
ING also works seamlessly with Sharebuilder for investments. I also have a 360 Savings. If you sign up for Capital One 360 through the banner above, you get $50 free for trying it out. Both ING account have very good interest rates.
Ally Bank has been building a great reputation for excellent customer service and high interest rates over the last couple of years. Formerly known as GMAC, Ally is proudly pushing its high interest savings and CD accounts as well.
Ally has all the standard perks of online banking, including a free ATM network, no minimum balances, and no fees to maintain your accounts.
Charles Schwab Bank
I use Charles Schwab for my investments, so its bank makes sense for me as well. I have both a checking and savings account at Schwab Bank.
They offer competitive, but not the highest, interest rates in addition to excellent customer service. My favorite features are the ability to transfer between investment and bank accounts instantly and ATM fee refunds anywhere in the world.
If you use Schwab investment services, this is a great option. If not, it might not be all that useful for you.