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Fifth Third Bank (FITB) adds new checking account fees

But they can be avoided

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Cincinnati's largest bank -- Fifth Third -- is making some changes to its checking accounts this year, and some customers are discovering it will cost them more.

A number of viewers have contacted 9 On Your Side saying they will now have to pay a monthly fee for the first time, after having an account there for years.

5/3's most popular account, Essential Checking, will now charge most customers $11 a month.

A basic eAccess account has no monthly charge, though you do not have paper check writing privileges (online and ATM banking only).

However, there are ways to avoid the fee.

How to Keep Free Checking

           -Checking is still free if you keep a $ 1,500 balance in your checking or savings accounts.
 
           -Checking is still free if your employer uses Fifth Third's  "Banking Benefits" program, and direct deposits your paycheck via that program.

             -Checking is still free is you are a member of the U.S. Military, or a veteran, and direct deposit $500 a monthly.

             -The monthly fee is just $8 if you direct deposit your paycheck or Social Security benefits.
    
Bottom line:  your best bet is to do some form of direct deposit, which isn't hard to do these days.  And if you can keep $1,500 in a savings account, checking remains free.

As always, don't waste your money.
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