Monthly banking fees can add up

Nearly half of Americans pay some kind of fee in a typical month

Published: September 04, 2013 12:30 PM

In a recent survey from the American Bankers Association, 53 percent of respondents reported paying no monthly fees for ATM withdrawals and checking-account maintenance.

That means most consumers don't pay any bank fees in a typical month. But, if you subscribe to a glass-half-empty view of the world, the survey reveals that 47 percent are paying a fee.

And that monthly fee can be significant: The same survey reports that one in seven pay more than $10 in banking fees every month, at least according to the consumers’ own recollection. (The survey asked respondents to estimate how much they pay in fees, including checking accounts, ATMs, “and so forth” —a phrase presumably meant to capture items such as overdraft fees and online bill payments.)

Read our report on bank fees and learn how to fight back against your bank.

And then there are overdraft fees: At least 20 percent of all checking accounts had at least one overdraft in 2011, according to a white paper published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in June, corroborating similar findings by the FDIC in 2008. With an average overdraft fee of more than $30, it takes just one overdraft on a checking account assessing a monthly fee, plus one monthly ATM withdrawal from outside of your bank's network, to pay an average of more than $10 each month.

Check our tips on avoiding and pushing back against bank fees. (And if you'd rather not fight, we also offer tips on bank flight.)

—Chris Horymski

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