Following the 2008 financial crash interest in financial transparency received a welcome boost, but it must be said that little headway has been made when it comes to demystifying the complex financial products which brought the banking system to its knees. Apparently the same can also be said of the humble checking account.
A new study from WalletHub analyzed leading banks and rated how consumer-friendly they were in terms of providing information about checking account fees online. While most of the banks were found to provide useful and sought-after information, customers might be surprised to hear that approximately 30 total fees are associated with the average checking account.
These fees contribute to billions of dollars that consumers spend on checking account fees each year.
Twenty-five banks were analyzed overall, and Capital One came out on top of the transparency league with a score of 90%. There was a seven-way tie for second place with Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), Compass Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE:STI), Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) and Huntington Bancshares Incorporated (NASDAQ:HBAN) each scoring 88.3%.
On the other side of the coin, M&T Bank Corporation (NYSE:MTB), which scored just 26.7%, and USAA, which scored 46.7%, did not provide any fee schedule information to consumers on their checking account product pages.
M&T Bank officials have since told WalletHub that they plan to include fee information later this month.
“The sheer number of different fees associated with checking accounts prevents effective product comparison and decreases the likelihood that consumers will find the best checking accounts for their needs,” the report states.
Checking account: Campaigning for greater transparency
Although the situation has been improving, WalletHub is convinced that there is a lot more that banks could do to teach customers about checking account fees.
Their main point of focus is to encourage banks to provide greater uniformity of their checking account disclosure forms, which would simplify the process of comparing products from different banks.
WalletHub published a helpful list of tips for those readers who would like assistance in choosing a checking account.