Chase Bank may have ended its experimental $5 ATM surcharge, but bank fees are rising across the board
Chase Bank no longer charges a $5 fee to non-bank customers using its ATMs, but fees are increasing industry wide for most bank services.
“Non-customer ATM fees are $3 across the network,” said a Chase spokesperson, who asked that her name be withheld, adding that the $5 fee increase was a test that began at the beginning of the year and ended about a month ago.
The temporary increase overlapped a public comment period for rules that would limit surcharges on debit card transactions. The cap, a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, would cost the banking industry an estimated $12 billion in revenue a year. Banks have already lost revenue from rules preventing them from automatically charging customers for overdraft protection.
While the media spotlight shone on Chase, banks continued to raise fees for a range of services as part of a trend that’s continued for more than 10 years, reports Bankrate.com in its 2010 Checking Study. The report surveys the five largest banks and five largest thrift institutions in 25 of the nation’s biggest markets.
Out-of-network ATM fees have been steadily rising since first measured in 1998 and were an average of $2.33 per transaction by the end of 2010, Bankrate.com said. Most banks also charged their customers for using their debit cards to withdraw money from another bank. Seventy-five percent of checking accounts now charge their customers this type of fee for an average of $1.41 per transaction. (In the previous year, 72.3 percent of banks charged customers an average of $1.32 for withdrawing money from another bank’s ATM.) The two types of ATM surcharges add up to an average fee of $3.74 bank for customers going out-of-network to withdraw their money.
Free checking is also on the decline. The number of accounts free of monthly fees or minimum balance requirements dropped to 65 percent this year, from 76 percent last year. At the same time, balances have increased 228 percent in two years for non-interest bearing accounts with minimum balance requirements. The average balance rose to $249.50, up from an average of $185.75 in 2009 and $109.26 in 2008. Balances in interest bearing accounts with minimum requirements were an average of $3,883.40 in 2010, up $511.22 from last year.
Checking account service fees are also rising. Non-interest checking accounts saw fees rise from an average of $1.77 in 2009 to $2.49 in 2010. Interest checking accounts saw fees rise up to an average of $13.04, up from $12.55 last year.
Bounced check fees continued their annual rise and hit a new record average of $30.47, up from $29.58 in 2009. Average yields on interest-bearing accounts fell. In 2010 yields fell to 0.1 percent down from 0.12 percent last year.
Bankrate.com noted one consumer friendly trend: Minimum requirements to open a noninterest checking account fell to $64.40 in 2010, down from $68.32 in 2009 and $87.67 in 2006.
“For the 7.7 million Americans without any kind of transactional bank account, that means a lower barrier of entry into the many benefits of checking,” said the Bankrate.com report.