The availability of free checking offered by major banks continues its downward trend, falling from its peak at 76 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2010 45 percent in 2011, 39 percent in 2012 and 38 percent this year.
Add bank fee increases to the list of life’s certainties that already includes death and taxes.
Bankrate.com finds unprecedented fees for overdrafts and out of network ATM usages in its 15th annual checking survey. Meanwhile, the availability of free checking offered by major banks continues its downward trend, falling from its peak at 76 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2010 45 percent in 2011, 39 percent in 2012 and 38 percent this year.
Though cutbacks to free checking at major banks have slowed in the past two years, those who do pay a monthly checking fee have seen those fees rise to record highs, from $5.48 to $5.54 per month. This fee, at least, is easy to avoid, the Bankrate survey found. Of the 473 checking accounts surveyed, 97 percent were either free or could become free if account holders met certain requirements such as registering for direct deposit.
ATM fees, too, have hit an all-time high. Banks now charge noncustomers an average $2.60 to use their ATMs, up from $2.50 last year. The average fee your own bank will charge for going out of network is down a few percentage points from 2012, to $1.53, but combined, it will cost $4.13 to make a withdrawal at an out of network ATM, the survey found. All told, the fees that banks charge noncustomers to use their ATMs has risen by nearly one-third since 2008.
Overdraft fees rose for the 15th consecutive year. “You’d have to make more than seven ATM withdrawals at out-of-network ATMs to equal just one overdraft at this year’s average $32.20—up almost $1 over last year’s average,” the survey notes.
So-called interest checking accounts may have gotten their name ironically. The average yield is 0.05 percent and the most common payout is 0.01 percent, both unchanged from last year.
The average minimum balance requited to open a non-interest checking account fell 19 percent to $60.27.
Which cities’ banks have the highest and lowest fees? Denver can claim a Rocky Mountain high for the average ATM fee at $4.70, while Baltimore can claim the lowest at $3.59. Milwaukee has the highest average overdraft fee at $34.16, while San Francisco has the lowest at $27.18.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.