Credit for consistency as ATM fees going up at many banks
Whatever one wants to say about banks, they are at least consistent if nothing else. The annual survey of bank fees and other costs of accounts at major banks, has found free checking is rarer and ATM fees are going up.
ATM fees going up along with everything else
Just like any service, having bank accounts involves weighing costs and benefits. The benefits are access to financial services and by building an account history, preferential status to one degree or another if applying for personal loans, credit cards or other form of credit.
The costs are fees. Maintenance fees on accounts, ATM fees when withdrawing cash and overdraft fees if one goes a bit overboard and so forth. They are also, according to CNN, are going up.
Bankrate.com found in its annual survey of bank fees that nearly every category of fee increased in cost. For instance, ATM fees for out-of-network users were an average $2.50, up 4 percent from last year. The charge banks assess on customers for using an out-of-network ATM increased 11 percent to $1.57, bringing the total cost of using an out-of-network cash machine to $4.07, a 7 percent increase.
Free checking should be on endangered species list
The survey, according to the Wall Street Journal, looked at account fee schedules for 477 accounts offered at 277 banks and credit unions, as well as disclosed fees like ATM fees.
Free checking continues to disappear. According to NBC News, only 39 percent of surveyed institutions offered an interest-free, maintenance fee-free checking account, down from 45 percent last year and almost half of the 79 percent of institutions that did so in Bankrate’s survey in 2009. Credit unions still offer them, as 72 percent of surveyed credit unions did so.
However, at 95 percent of surveyed banks, it is possible to avoid a monthly maintenance fee. The average fee was $5.48, a 25 percent increase from 2011. Receiving direct deposits or maintaining a minimum balance, on average $723, a 23 percent increase over last year, will void the fee. For interest-bearing checking accounts, the average fee was $14.75 and the average minimum balance to avoid it is $6,118, almost double the amount from 2010.
Those accounts aren’t really a wise move, given an average yield of 0.05 percent.
Other fees marching up
Aside from disappearing free checking an increasing ATM fees, overdraft fees also increased to an average $31.26 from $30.83 in last year’s survey.
Part of the problem is recent regulations on overdraft fees and debit card swipe fees, which according to the Wall Street Journal, saps an estimated $10 billion in revenue from the banking industry per year, though that also happens to be less than one-third of the nation’s largest banks’ profits in the second quarter of this year, alone. It costs such institutions between $200 and $300 per year to administer a checking account, but a lot of people don’t cotton to large institutions nickel and diming them to death while crying with two loaves under their arms.