Free checking has become an endangered species in this country, with Americans who fail to meet certain criteria finding themselves paying a monthly maintenance charge on their accounts. Meanwhile, new limits on interchange fees mean that banks may raise ATM fees as a way of making up lost revenue. And those are just the two most visible fees charged by banks – literally dozens of fees, penalties and service charges exist, making retail banking a virtual minefield of hidden charges.
To help you sort out this mess, we’ve called on RateWatch data to explore what the average bank charges on several of the most common fees. Take a look at the average fees listed below, then call up your bank or check out its website to see how it stacks up. If you’re paying more than the national average on a service you frequently use, it may be time to shop around.
Service: Transaction at another bank’s ATM
Average Fee: $1.20
Explanation: This is the fee that an average bank charges for using an ATM outside its network.
Service: Non-customer ATM transaction
Average Fee: $2.11
Explanation: This is what the average bank charges non-customers to use its ATMs. Combined with the ‘foreign’ ATM fee charged by your own bank (see above), you’re looking at $3.31 in service charges for using another bank’s ATM.
Service: Monthly Fee for Interest Checking
Average Fee: $10.56
Explanation: This is the average monthly fee charged by an interest-bearing checking account, which will likely eat up any interest you might earn. Fortunately, these fees are typically avoided by maintaining a minimum balance or meeting some other criteria.
Service: Monthly Fee for Non-Interest Checking
Average Fee: $3.21
Explanation: This is the average monthly charge for a standard checking account, which can usually be avoided by meeting certain criteria like establishing a regular direct deposit to the account.
Service: Monthly Fee for Money-Market Savings
Average Fee: $8.26
Explanation: This is the average fee charged for a money market savings account, which typically return higher interest, though they often require higher minimum balances than regular savings accounts.
Service: Monthly Fee for Regular Savings
Average Fee: $2.45
Explanation: This is the average monthly fee for a monthly savings account if criteria such as minimum balances are not being met.
Service: Online Bill Pay
Average Fee: $0.69
Explanation: The average monthly charge for using online bill pay. The low average reflects the fact that most banks offer online banking services for free.
Service: Safe Deposit Box (3” x 5”)
Average Fee: $30.56
Explanation: The average annual fee for keeping a safe deposit box at a bank. A 3” x 10” box will run you $49.52, while a 5” x 10” box averages $68.36 annually.
Service: Non-Sufficient Funds – Paid Check
Average Fee: $24.08
Explanation: If you cut a check beyond your means, your bank may agree to cover the shortfall to avoid an embarrassing bounced check. This is what you can expect to pay the bank when it happens, and the bank will charge you around $2.66 a day until you pay it back.
Service: Non-Sufficient Funds – Returned Check
Average Fee: $24.11
Explanation: If you bounce a check, this is the fee that your bank will charge you.
Service: Overdraft Protection (Debit/ATM)
Average Fee: $19.33
Explanation: If you’ve opted for overdraft protection, your bank will cover you each time you withdraw more money than you have in your account. This is the average fee they'll charge each time it happens.
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