'People are more and more viewing online banking as a convenience anyway. If you consider that convenience plus the chance to avoid fees, it adds up to a rare win-win for consumers.
Foster City, Calif. (PRWEB) August 26, 2014
The average for nearly every type of checking account and ATM fee rose in the first half of 2014, according to the mid-2014 Bank Fees Survey from MoneyRates.com, and the percentage of free checking accounts – those with no monthly maintenance fee – fell to 28 percent, the lowest level recorded since the survey began in 2009.
Notable fee climbs in the survey include the average monthly maintenance fee (up 15 cents to $12.69), the average overdraft fee (up 45 cents to $32.48) and the average out-of-network ATM charge imposed by banks on their customers (up 7 cents to $1.52). The only average fee to drop in the survey was the charge for non-customers to use an ATM (down 4 cents to $2.51).
Other low points for consumers included a higher average deposit required to open a checking account (up $6.74 to $400.45) and a higher average minimum balance required to avoid a monthly maintenance fee (up $724.69 to $5,440).
Richard Barrington, CFA, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com, says that while the banking environment has become more expensive in many respects, there are still plenty of ways consumers can sidestep this trend – particularly if they are willing to forgo a traditional, branch-serviced checking account for one that’s based strictly online.
“People are more and more viewing online banking as a convenience anyway,” says Barrington. “If you consider that convenience plus the chance to avoid fees, it adds up to a rare win-win for consumers.”
Fifty-eight percent of the online-based checking accounts in the survey had no monthly maintenance fee, compared with just 25 percent of the traditional accounts.
Barrington adds that consumers who are tired of fees may also wish to avoid the nation’s largest banks. The survey finds that these institutions charge higher checking account fees than their smaller counterparts across numerous categories. Only 19 percent of the checking accounts from the nation’s largest banks – defined in this study as those with more than $10 billion in deposits – came with no monthly maintenance fee.
“Large banks still have the lion’s share of U.S. deposits,” says Barrington. “This shows an unfortunate inertia on the part of consumers. In many cases, they could save a lot of money by making a change.”
Barrington also urges consumers to use good banking habits to avoid discretionary bank fees, such as overdraft and ATM charges.
“Responsible habits start with smart choices,” says Barrington. “Opt out of overdraft protection. Choose a bank whose ATM network is convenient to your regular movements and travels. Bank fees are going up for most customers, but they don’t have to for you.”
You can read the entire analysis on MoneyRates.com here: http://www.money-rates.com/research-center/bank-fees/mid-2014.htm.
The Bank Fees Survey is updated twice a year using data on checking accounts offered by banks in the MoneyRates Index. The MoneyRates Index is a composite of more than 100 banks, including the 50 largest U.S. banks by deposit amount and a similar number of smaller banks. This sampling was constructed to be broadly representative of the general banking environment.
MoneyRates.com has been a leading source of information on bank rates, personal finance, savings accounts and investing since 1999. The site provides the highest rates on certificates of deposit, money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts. MoneyRates.com is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (NASDAQ: QNST), one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies in the world. QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the information they need to research, find and select the products, services and brands that best meet their needs. The company is a leader in ethical marketing practices. For more information, please visit QuinStreet.com.