Bank Fees Are Rising — Here’s How to Escape Them

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Still paying banking fees? A survey shows that you are not alone. Find out how to to lower fees quickly.

Banking fees are not only getting steeper, they are getting harder to avoid.

The only type of fee that decreased recently, overdraft fees, dropped by a whopping 1 cent. They now average $32.47 per overdraft occurrence.

Those are some of the findings of the latest MoneyRates.com Bank Fees Survey. Fortunately, the findings also suggest it is still possible to avoid checking account and ATM fees, even if the options for doing so are fewer.

But first, the depressing details of the survey, which MoneyRates conducts semiannually. The latest results are for the second half of 2014 and include:

  • Maintenance fees increased: The average of $12.87 per month is up by 18 cents compared to the first half of 2014. That’s $155.44 per year.
  • Maintenance fees were more common: Now, 74 percent of checking accounts are charged maintenance fees, which is up by 2 percent compared to the prior six months.
  • Minimum account balances increased: For a checking account to qualify for a maintenance fee waiver, the required minimum account balance now averages $5,708.76 — which is up by $268.76.
  • ATM fees increased: For customers who use an out-of-network ATM, the fee averages $1.61, up by 9 cents. For non-customers using an ATM, it’s $2.65, up by 14 cents.

So what is a customer to do?

Switch to an online bank

This could eliminate bank fees, as the study found that 63 percent of online checking accounts have no monthly fees, versus 24 percent of traditional accounts.

Even if online banking doesn’t eliminate bank fees for you, the fees typically are less than those of a traditional bank.

The study found that online banks generally have lower overdraft fees (averaging $30.18 versus $32.73 for traditional banks) and lower ATM fees (averaging 22 cents versus $1.75 for customers who use out-of-network ATMs, and $2 versus $2.67 for non-customers who use ATMs).

To learn more, check out Can An Online Only Bank Meet All of Your Banking Needs? and 5 Reasons To Move To A Web-Only Bank — And 3 Reasons You Might Not Want To.

If you decide against an online bank, consider switching to a credit union instead. Here are 9 Reasons To Love Credit Unions (And Not Big Banks).

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