For most Americans, a checking account acts as the hub of all things financial. But, due to recent changes to financial legislation, it has become more difficult for larger banks to provide free checking accounts. But, if you look hard enough, they still exist — most likely at smaller, community banks.

vauvau / Flickr |

vauvau / Flickr source

Today, none of the top 10 U.S. banks offer a free checking account with no strings attached. At these big banks, basic checking accounts carry monthly fees that can be waived only if certain conditions are met.

We looked at the most populated cities in the country to find the brick-and-mortar banks that still offer a free checking account — that is, one with no monthly fee, no minimum balance and no direct deposit requirement.

*Methodology: The 10 most populated cities are based on the 2010 U.S. Census. The three largest banks by deposit market share in each city, according to the FDIC database, with a free checking account were chosen. Online banks were excluded.

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