The latest semi-annual bank fees survey, conducted by Moneyrates.com, revealed the fee environment for consumers became worse since the latter part of 2011. The average monthly fee charged by banks increased from $11.28 to $12.08. In one year, customers are paying approximately $145 per year, which is a large chunk out of a person’s savings.
The survey also revealed the average amount required to open a checking account rose from $391.41 during the past six month to the current $408.76. The minimum checking account balance required to avoid a monthly service fee went up from $3,590.83 to $4,446.57.
Overdraft fees also climbed from the average, $29.23, to $29.83, while ATM fees also increased for bank customers using out-of-network machines, and non-bank customers using a bank’s ATM.
In a statement, Richard Barrington, senior financial analysts at Moneyrates.com, said the current result of the survey is the most comprehensive rising trend they have seen in their checking account surveys.
According to Moneyrate.com, the survey also indicated the average monthly fees vary according to the size and type of a bank. The average maintenance fees required by large banks was $13.88, while medium size banks charge $11.17 average monthly maintenance fee. Small banks require $9.87 average monthly maintenance fees.
On the other hand, a study conducted by Bankrate.com, showed the number of credit unions offering free checking accounts for bank customers is decreasing.
In 2011, 76 percent of the 50 biggest credit unions in the country offered free checking accounts. This year rate declined to 72 percent, according the data compiled by Bankrate.com. Some of the credit unions offering free checking accounts include Alliant Credit Union in Chicago and Citizens Equity First Credit Union in Peoria.
Bankrate.com’s survey also found only 45 percent of banks offer free checking accounts without minimum balance, and 35.5 percent do not require monthly service fees on checking accounts.
Almost all credit unions included in the study charge fees to non-customers using their ATMs. The average credit union ATM fee is $2.08.
Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, said, "Fees and balance requirements at banks have a long-standing tradition of increasing year-in and year-out, but the trend has certainly kicked into overdrive in the past two years following regulatory changes that cut into revenue from credit and debit cards.
According to him, customers will be able to avoid the monthly fees in some of the banks and credit unions by maintaining the required minimum balance, direct deposit and signing up for online statements.
Based on the data compiled by ABC News, the monthly checking accounts fees of the 10 largest banks are as follows: