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12 free checking accounts for baby boomers

MoneyRates.com Senior Financial Analyst, CFA
October 20, 2011

The baby boomers may be getting older -- even the youngest of them are almost 50 now -- but they should take comfort in the fact that some banks still show respect for age.

One way they do this is by offering free checking accounts to customers 50 and older. At a time when the free checking account is practically an endangered species, having special access to free checking is a valuable benefit.

To help you take advantage of this benefit, MoneyRates.com has assembled a list of 12 great checking accounts for customers age 50 and older.

12 great checking accounts for baby boomers

MoneyRates.com tracks information on a cross-section of banks, a sample known as the MoneyRates Index. The MoneyRates Index follows the 50 largest banks in the U.S., plus a similar number of mid-sized banks. From the products offered by this broad sampling of banks, MoneyRates.com identified a dozen excellent accounts for baby boomers (listed alphabetically and not by preference):

  1. Alliance Bank - Alliance 50 Checking
  2. Amegy Bank of Texas - 50 Free Checking
  3. Bremer Bank - Senior Checking
  4. Bryn Mawr Trust - Centennial Gold 50 Checking
  5. Cascade Bank - 50 Free Interest Checking
  6. Cashmere Valley Bank - Club 50 Checking
  7. Citizens First Bank - Senior Interest Checking
  8. Farmington Bank - 50 Plus Checking
  9. First Chicago Bank and Trust - 50 Free Interest Checking
  10. Gate City Bank - 50 Interest Checking
  11. Mile High Banks - Mile High Checking Account
  12. The First - 50 Free Interest Checking

All of the above accounts offer checking with no monthly fees to customers age 50 and older. Some even sweeten the deal by offering interest on checking account balances. There were other banks in the MoneyRates Index that also offer free checking accounts to customers in higher age brackets, but to cater to as many baby boomers as possible, MoneyRates.com used age 50 as the cut-off point for this list.

Several banks on the list are local community banks, and their willingness to accommodate key markets such as baby boomers is an example of why customers have steadily migrated away from Wall Street banks and towards more community-based institutions in recent years. If you don't see a bank from your area on this list, it is still worth checking with your local banks to see if they also have special offers for seniors.

A great deal at a crucial time

Free checking deals are especially welcome now because these are generally tough times for bank customers. In the most recent review of checking accounts in the MoneyRates Index, MoneyRates.com found that the number of free checking accounts had declined to just 34.74 percent of the total.

Even as checking accounts are becoming more expensive, savings accounts are getting less and less rewarding. According to the FDIC, the average interest rate on savings accounts is now down to 0.12 percent. This drop in interest rates hits older customers especially hard, since they tend to have more money in savings, and retirees may depend on the income from those savings. Since monthly maintenance fees on a checking account can easily wipe out the interest you earn in a savings account these days, it is more important than ever to look for free checking.

Avoiding monthly fees is a critical part of saving money on banking, but be advised that there are other types of fees that may be associated with these accounts, such as overdraft fees and ATM fees. Before you sign up for an account, be sure to look at its entire schedule of fees to see how it might suit your banking habits. Also, since the bank fee environment is changing almost daily, be sure to confirm that the free checking offers listed above are still in effect when you contact these banks.

Why banks love older customers

So are you feeling the love from these banks with special offers for baby boomers--or are you simply suspicious that certain banks are targeting you?

Well, it may not be love that makes banks seek older customers, but it's nothing you should feel nervous about either. Older customers tend to be wealthier than younger ones, and less likely to change banks frequently. In short, getting free checking because you are past the age of 50 can be a win-win for you and the bank. With banks offering so few wins of any sort these days, this one is well worth taking.

 

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