Banks have to defray the cost of new regulations somehow and one of the ways they are doing that is by eliminating free checking. Seems pretty fair, what with the direct line to the Federal Reserve many of these banks have and all.
(From The Week)
New government regulations and a struggling economy have eaten into bank profits. President Obama’s 2010 overhaul of the financial system, which is meant to protect consumers from bad banking practices, curbed the ability of banks to charge customers overdraft fees. Major banks have tried to offset the losses in numerous ways, most prominently by trying to charge customers for using their debit cards, which was met with a severe public backlash.