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Due to tough financial regulations, Chase tightened its checking account products to the point where it can be difficult for some people to waive their monthly checking account fee.

As a result, Chase customers with basic checking accounts will need to pay more attention to their account in order to avoid monthly checking account fees.

The new changes to Chase checking accounts

Chase (NYSE: JPM) consolidated their Chase Basic Checking, Chase Free Extra, and Chase Free Classic checking accounts to Chase Total Checking.

Note: These accounts generally belonged to former Washington Mutual and Chase/Bank One checking accountholders.

The new Chase Total Checking account requires one of the following to waive the monthly fee:

  • At least one direct deposit of $500 or more
  • Maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or more in your checking account
  • Maintain an average balance of $5,000 or more in a combination of deposit and/or investment accounts at Chase (Must be linked to your checking account.)
  • Pay $25 or more in qualifying account fees (not including monthly account fee)

All current customers with Chase checking accounts will be grandfathered in as Chase Checking. These accounts are no longer offered to new customers.

The grandfathered Chase Checking account requires one of the following to waive the monthly fee:

  • At least one direct deposit of $500 or more
  • Make five non-PIN debit card purchases per billing cycle. (You must select “credit” at the register.)

Avoid monthly checking account fees

Who knew free checking accounts required such high maintenance?

Similar to how banks have found ways to adapt to the financial rules and legislation, customers also have discovered ways of avoiding bank rules and restrictions. For those who already meet these requirements, there is nothing more they need to do.

For others who are struggling to keep their checking account “free,” here are two popular ways that you can avoid upcoming changes to their Chase Checking:

Take advantage of ACH credit transfers

Currently, Chase’s computer system considers direct deposits to be ACH credits. Therefore, a transfer from your online savings account or from a PayPal account fulfills the direct deposit requirement because it is an ACH credit.

When the new Chase checking accounts kick in, you’ll have to initiate a monthly ACH transfer of $500 into your checking account. Afterwards, you can move the money back to where it belongs. This will mean that you have to keep $500 readily available every month. To keep this from being a monthly task, use monthly scheduled transfers to automate the process.

Note that Chase may change system protocols and nullify this method at any time.

According to existing “Chase Checking” account holders, an ACH transfer of $500 or more is confirmed to trigger a direct deposit alert and the $6 monthly fee was not charged.

Convert to Chase Checking and make five small debit card purchases

Customers who currently have Chase Basic Checking, Chase Free Extra, and Chase Free Classic checking accounts should request that their accounts be converted to Chase Checking — or close their account and open a Chase Checking account.

The grandfathered Chase Checking account would allow you to make debit card purchases to waive the monthly fee. There aren’t any limits in place regarding the debit card purchases so you can make five small debit card purchases every month to avoid monthly checking account fees.

Tip: Quick trips to the convenience store, drugstore, or dollar store for inexpensive items such as a piece of candy will easily meet the requirement. You can even charge your debit card five times in a single trip if you so desired. Remember that you must select “credit” at the checkout counter.

Ask a Question

  • Banks really need to be careful while eliminating free checking. Customers these days have so many options, just as this article has mentioned.

    If you’re interested in reading a bit more on the subject, here is a free report on free checking and what it means to the customer.

  • The_general_1968

    The article fails to reveal the reason Chase and other banks are raising fees. The federal government and federal reserve conspired to have legislation passed that allows the federal reserve to cut the revenue on debit transactions by 90% for issuing banks. They, in turn, have to start charging fees to make up for the lost revenue. Other banks will have to do the same, as the legislation applies to them as well. Another case of government trying to “help consumers” and it backfiring. You can comment to have the Interchange Fee Cap repealed by logging on to the federal reserve’s website and posting your comment against the Durbin amendment that limits Interchange Fees.

    • Tj

      Instead of raising fees on checking to make money why don’t the banks start lending more money. Why would I pay them to hold my money. I will switch to a credit union. People need to remember we don’t need the banks money they need ours to stay in business. Eventually the banks moves will back fire and people will resort back to keeping their money under their mattresses again – lol.

      • NAME


  • Tj

    I have an easier way to avoiding the fees. Join your local credit union or bank which don’t have these fees. Why would I pay a bank to hold my money so they can make more money off of it. Come on people we need to stop letting these corporations rape us.

    • While it may be of personal preference to opt for a less costly alternative, many other things play a role in this decision. Nobody wants to pay fees but it’s a trade-off to the convenience of multiple local branches/ATMs – among other features such as mobile apps and remote deposit.

      If customers who join a credit union, online bank, or community bank can make it work for them – then, great. But, not everyone will be able to deal with their financial matters in that respect, which will lead them to costlier, more convenient options from big banks.

  • Home

    Apparently this info is incorrect – the 5 debit card transactions will not suffice come Feb 8…

    • The information above has been verified by a Chase representative.

      If you have “Chase Checking” now, your account will be grandfathered as “Chase Checking” (no change in the name). It is the most basic checking account available from Chase right now if you visit the bank’s website. You will have to either have a single direct deposit of $500 or more OR make five debit card transactions to waive the monthly fee.

      “Chase Checking” will no longer be available starting February 5.

      • roti

        Thanks for this info. For those of us who were not grandfathered in another option can be to chase debit cards rewards cash back and close the account when the program ends in July 2011.

        • roti

          On second thought I’m going to close my Chase account and open an Ally Bank Interest Checking Account! As a loyal WAMU customer I knew it would only be a matter of time before Chase would “reward” these new customers and take advantage of all the atm-real estate they inherited from the merger. For those of you who believe the new regulations are to blame please take a moment to calculate just how much Chase stands to make off of these $12 monthly “non-service” fees.

        • The Chase Ultimate Rewards debit card program is set to end in July 2011 but if the Durbin Amendment does not get passed, the program could stick around.

          But, it is still up to you whether you decide to say with Chase.

    • 1385pebblewood

      I just came from chase, and was told that it will if you sign up for a “Chase Checking,” not to be confused with “chase free checking” or any of the other similar types. And you cannot transfer an old wamu checking into this kind of account. You must cancel the old account, and get a new one, but do it before the fees go into affect. Then you are grandfathered in.

  • 1285pebblewood

    Just went to chase, swapped 5 accounts around thanks to your tips. My projected $360 annual fees (thanks to their new fee structure) will again ZERO.

    This was extremely helpful.

    Thank you!

  • The Dude

    Here’s a simple way to avoid the fees Chase is going to assess (and fear not, gentle friends, if they don’t generate “enough” revenue by the changes they’re implementing, they’ll come up with more)–

    Don’t bank with Chase.

  • Coolneo3

    I have been with WaMu before Chase , are they trying to go out of business bad move ,.I’m closing my accounts , how sad …

  • Lamunche

    The above comment regarding Chase considering all ACH transfers to meet the direct deposit requirement is erroneous. I have called Chase twice to confirm this, and they said that the direct deposit MUST be from an employer; that other forms of ACH transfers will NOT count towards the criteria of avoiding the fee.

    • Chase representatives may not necessarily be telling you the truth here. Many Chase customers have been meeting the direct deposit requirement by utilizing the methods stated in the article when representatives have denied it. And again, as noted in the article, all Chase has to do is revise their system to nullify these methods, which can occur without notice.

      It does not hurt to give it a try in your own account if you’d like to see if an ACH transfer would qualify as a direct deposit. Set up an account alert to notify you when you receive a direct deposit and then perform a self-initiated ACH transfer. If you receive an alert that a “direct deposit” was received then you’d know if you’d be able to curtail the requirements. Hope this helps!

    • DLoo

      All Social Security Checks count …and all pension checks count ….including PBGC

      Also Veterans get free upgraded checking accounts ….and wives get the same if the Veteran is on the account too .So seniors will do very well at Chase . Many of us get two checks …one SSN and the other company pension….Many are also veterans …since our era served our country in massive numbers .
      Who doesn’t use a credit card five times a month …gas & groceries alone …..and its easier to use credit than debit ….no messing with the little annoying machines .
      Looks like a lot of WaMu whiners on here …..

  • Arensie

    I was told about the five debit transactions when I called chase last month. I was told to call on Feb 8 to transfer my account officially from WAMU to chase to insure that I would get no fees. when I called today I was told that was never a way to waive the fee and they were sorry I had been misinformed. I call it flat out lied to.

    • You may have been deceived here as all accounts are converted as of February 8. Any account changes should have been completed prior to the mandated Chase changes.

      Former WaMu customers would have had to request a conversion before February 5. If Chase didn’t allow a conversion, you could have close the account and opened a “Chase Checking” when it was still available. It would have been grandfathered to allow five debit transactions to avoid the account fee.

      Unfortunately, since the accounts overhaul is already implemented. You are stuck with “Chase Total Checking”.

    • You may have been deceived here as all accounts are converted as of February 8. Any account changes should have been completed prior to the mandated Chase changes.

      Former WaMu customers would have had to request a conversion before February 5. If Chase didn’t allow a conversion, you could have close the account and opened a “Chase Checking” when it was still available. It would have been grandfathered to allow five debit transactions to avoid the account fee.

      Unfortunately, since the accounts overhaul is already implemented. You are stuck with “Chase Total Checking”.

  • Disgruntled

    I called my local Chase to transfer to Chase Checking and was told I had to go to a branch to do so.

    I went down to my local branch on Feb 4 and requested that my previously free checking be switched to Chase Checking, but instead spent 15 minutes being dissuaded from switching to that new account. First he told me he couldn’t switch my account and I would have to close my current one, meaning I couldn’t use a debit card until I received my new debit card in the mail. I told him that was fine. He then said that he couldn’t close my account because I had a pending PayPal transaction and that I would have to come back another day to open the Chase Checking account. He then tried to pressure me into opening a Business account (after finding out that I work as an independent contractor) so I could then be signed up for a Chase Premiere Checking account which he told me would be free (since it was connected to a business account) and that would be available immediately. Confused as to why he wanted me to do this I asked him flat out “What does Chase get out of it if I open a business account?” to which he answered “Nothing.” I did manage to get out of him that I would have to pay a $12 fee for not using my debit card at least 5 times a month. Frustrated and confused I asked for some written information on both accounts he wanted me to open. He told me to think about it and come back tomorrow.

    After leaving that branch I drove to another Chase branch just to see what they would say. I was greeted by a nice man who told me that there would be no problem in switching from my free checking to Chase Checking. He told me he’d make sure to close my previous account for me as soon as my pending transaction was completed and that I could keep my debit card (and even use it immediately).

    I now realize that the man at my local branch was doing anything in his power to make sure I didn’t open a Chase Checking account, seeing as if I had come back later, Chase Checking would no longer have been available. Needless to say, dealing with Chase has left a sour taste in my mouth. Luckily I was able to find a trustworthy Chase employee to help me.

    • Sometimes, the employee helping you does make a difference. If one employee does not or cannot fulfill your request, it is a good move to just go to another employee. Many consumers simply call back when a customer service rep doesn’t meet their expectations.

      It’s great that you were able to find someone who was willing convert your account to Chase Checking.

  • UPDATE (3/1/11) – According to a current customer with a Chase Checking account, an ACH transfer for $500 from an ING Direct Orange Savings account had triggered a direct deposit account alert. It remains unclear whether it would satisfy the fee waiver requirements. Will have to wait until the end of the statement cycle to see if the account fee is charged. Updates to follow…

    To current Chase Total Checking account customers: Did an ACH transfer of $500 or more trigger a direct deposit alert on your account? Please share! Also, remember to let us know if you were charged the monthly account fee if an ACH transfer was in fact recognized as a direct deposit.

  • UPDATE (3/12/11): Current “Chase Checking” account customers who performed an ACH transfer of $500+ have not reported a $6 monthly account fee charged in their latest account statement. Has any “Chase Total Checking” customers done the same and not see a $12 monthly account fee on their statements?

  • mstar

    Another way on my chase business account is to use my chase credit it card ONCE a month to avoid fees.
    It might be a grandfathered thing but it still is working for me.
    However I closed two chase personal accounts not to deal iwth the new fees. They asked why I closed the savings and I said there was no reason to SAVE with this bank. I did nto get ANY interest in 1 year. They said the interest was worth less than a penny. There is a banker or two who post here that says banks loose moeny on free checking. Well they make money when they do not pay interest since they float my money and use it for loans and investments. Now I had about double what I had in the chase account in another bank and that bank paid $1.43. So to tell me that my money at chase was worth less than a penny so they do not have to pay me, just proves they are making far more per customers than other bank who are sharing the wealth so to speak. I should ahve at least seen a dime if not $.70 is all banks go by the market rate. Sorry Chase is just too pushy for me.
    I only jointed up with them since I was a Wamu customer on the personal side and the promo they run to give me $100 for opening a $100 checking. But back then there was not all this ACH stuff and I am self employed and have less options to do that.
    I also have checking at TD and have no issues with them NOR the hard sell NJ bankers have. How many times I just want to do a fast transaction and theymake me sit down and discuss things with them. I have two branches and they are just as pushy. Closing a savings account should not be a fight. Making a withdrawl should not make me sit down and discuss if I have the right account for me. How many times it must work for htem that I really do not feel bad for banks. chase is just too agressive and I am not sure how much longer I will keep the business side with them.

  • Aparootsa

    Chase has requirements for their bonuses that they don’t include when you open the account… you won’t find out about them until later, when you read through the fine print on the documents accompanying the origination papers… they look like ads, but they’re actually additional requirements.  Be warned.

  • I’m closing my Chase account,so I can go & find an online bank,or a “nicer” bank.

  • Bob Mccauley

    What does ‘QUICK DEP MTH CHG SINGLE’ mean on my Chase statement?

    • Did you recently deposit a check with your smartphone?

      The ‘QUICK DEP’ appears to refer to Quick Deposit, which is Chase’s term for mobile check deposits. It may be a placeholder for the mobile check deposit transaction until it is cleared.

      My last Quick Deposit check posted to my statement as ‘REMOTE ONLINE DEPOSIT #1’.

      I’d call Chase to verify the transaction on your statement.

  • HJ

    I opened a Chase College Checking in 2007. Right now, I am still under a College Checking given I not reached 24 yet. When I reach 25, I’m assuming Chase will no longer offer the College Checking account to me. My question is am I grandfathered in as well?

    • HJ, no. Your account will convert to Chase Total Checking.

  • Christy luckey

    Wow I wouldn’t pay for my money to sit sum where it wold sit w me