Many of us have come to rely on debit cards. They are convenient methods of payment, working like credit cards — and accepted where credit cards are used. You can swipe your debit card quickly and easily, without worrying about paying interest; your money comes right out of your checking. And now, banks are betting on the fact that you will want to keep the convenience of debit cards. Wells Fargo is test out monthly fees on debit cards, adding $3 to accounts in five states, starting in October.

Truly free checking is getting harder and harder to find these days. And, if debit card fees catch on, it will be even more difficult to do your banking without paying out the nose in fees. Banks say that they are just looking for ways to boost revenues, thanks to new regulations that limit fees, including a swipe fee cap to take effect in October. However, with the financial sector almost completely recovered from the financial crisis of 2008, it seems as though all these fees might be a bit superfluous.

Consider Your Banking Options

Now, more than ever, is the time to pay attention to what you bank sends you. It is vital that you know what new fees are being added to your account. From fees for paper statements, to monthly service fees, to increased overdraft charges, you need to be on top of what your bank is up to. At the very least, look over your bank account statement carefully each month to see what other charges might be tucked in there.

Once you realize that your bank is adding more fees, it’s time to consider your options. It might be time to look for a new bank. The good news is that there are a number of financial institutions that can provide you with truly free checking, and that will value your patronage.

One of the best places to start looking is online. While many credit unions still offer competitive financial products, they are not full-proof (my own credit union is now charging for checking accounts). Online banks, though, are stepping in to feel the void, and you are likely to find better deals when you look on line. Luckily, technology makes it possible for you to keep track of your money online, make deposits, and complete transactions fairly simply. Having a brick and mortar location in your hometown is no longer completely necessary.