Consumer Watch: Tips for avoiding bank fees

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by WHAS11

WHAS11.com

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 4:35 PM

(WHAS11) -- A new survey finds consumers facing more "fee" than "free" when it comes to banking and checking services. Despite a continued rise in those service fees, there are ways to cut those costs. Good Morning Kentuckiana’s Andy Treinen has tips in Tuesday's Consumer Watch. 

According to an annual look at banking fees by Bankrate.com, Americans are paying more to use their money. 

“We continue to see an increase in monthly service charges for checking accounts. With a decline in free checking, not only are more accounts charging a monthly fee, but the fees themselves are moving higher, both interest and non-interest checking accounts,” said Bankrate.com Senior Financial Analyst Greg McBride.

The bankrate survey found ATM surcharges for a bank's non-customers rose four percent over last year, the average overdraft fee is up 1.4 percent and the average monthly fee for a checking account is up 25 percent.

On the other side of the spectrum, the percentage of free checking accounts shrunk to 39 percent, way off a peak of 76 percent in 2009.  

The good news, most fees can be avoided, whether it's more discipline when choosing an ATM, or in the case of many checking accounts, maintaining a minimum monthly balance. Otherwise, a bank switch may be in order.

“There are still plenty of smaller community banks, credit unions, and online banks that continue to offer those stand-alone free checking accounts, said McBride.

Just keep in mind that smaller banks may not have the full range of financial services, like loans, mortgages and more. Of course you can always simply take those banking needs to the big boys.

If you have a consumer issue you’d like us to look into just send an e-mail to consumerwatch@whas11.com.

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