The Average Checking Account Has 30 Separate Fees

Photo (cc) by B Rosen

Checking accounts can have up to 48 potential fees, a Pew study found in January. But surely that’s not normal, right?

The average may still surprise you. According to new research from WalletHub.com, the typical checking account has 30 associated fees, while “most banks fell in [the] 20 to 40 total fee range.”

The study specifically excluded fees for services not associated with basic checking accounts, such as fees related to safety deposit boxes, gift cards, personalized checks and wage garnishment.

Fees are a big deal. Banks raked in $32 billion just from overdraft fees last year, despite regulations that ended banks’ practice of automatically enrolling customers in so-called overdraft protection and made it optional, we wrote recently.

WalletHub’s study ranked 25 major banks from best to worst based on how transparent and understandable their fees are. (The rankings are not about the number or cost of fees.)

By those criteria, the best banks are Capital One, Fifth Third Bank and Citibank. The worst by a wide margin was M&T Bank, which the study says only disclosed two fees on its website, followed by The Huntington National Bank and HSBC Bank.

Here’s what else the study found:

  • There’s no consistency across banks in the way they disclose fees, making it difficult to effectively comparison shop.
  • About half of banks have well-labeled direct links from checking account product pages to summary or full-disclosure fee information.
  • One out of five banks don’t provide a list of fees to consumers before they apply for an account. This includes HSBC Bank, The Huntington National Bank, USAA Federal Savings Bank, and M&T Bank.
  • “In some cases, it was difficult to even determine what services were associated with fees such as international service assessment fee or domestic collection fee based on their naming conventions. Some bank staff members even reported having to look up the definition of a few of the fees themselves.”

Are you happy with how your bank charges and discloses fees? If not, check out the video below for advice on how to switch to a better bank.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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