Consumer Comeback Blog

Consumers See Higher Bank Fees in First Half of 2012

Anyone maintaining a budget should keep an eye out for hidden fees on all of their bills – from utilities to credit card bills, and even your checking account. All of those extras can add up to what you could be using to pay down debt or put into savings.

No matter how diligent you may be at monitoring your statements, those fees have a way of sneaking in there. A recent bank fees survey indicates consumers may be paying more for their checking accounts and ATM use since the beginning of the year.

Since December 2011, average checking accounts at the institutions surveyed:

  • Increased the minimum required to open an account to $408.76 up from $391.41 Increasing the minimum may force more low-income people to go without a bank account.
  • Increased monthly service fees from an average $11.28 to $12.08, adding up to a a total of nearly $145 per year.
  • Increased the minimum balance for monthly fee waiver from an average of $3,590.83 to $4,446.57.
  • Increased overdraft fees. Overdraft fees jumped to an average of $29.23 to $29.83.
  • Decreased number of accounts with free checking from 38.8 to 35.3%.
  • Increased ATM fees both for bank customers using out-of-network machines and for non-customers using a bank’s ATM.

Fees tend to vary according to the size and type of bank. For example, larger banks with more than $25 billion in deposites changed and average of %13.88 in maintenance fees, where as medium sized banks charged $11.17 and smaller banks charged an average of $9.87. Larger banks also required higher minimum balances to open an account and to get a fee waiver.
Small banks were more apt to offer free checking, with 45.8% no-fee accounts, compared to 21% free checking accounts at large banks.