Checking and ATM Fees are Rising According to New Bank Fees Survey

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The latest Bank Fees Survey finds that checking accounts and ATMs became more costly to consumers in virtually every way possible during the second quarter. It also indicates that bank customers may reduce the fees they pay by choosing either an online bank or a smaller bank.

Consumers need to be on the alert. This is the most comprehensive rising fee trend we’ve seen in one of our checking account surveys, which means it is likely to affect more people than ever.

The Bank Fees Survey, a semi-annual study by personal finance website, reveals that checking account and ATM fees increased in numerous ways throughout the first half of 2012. The study also finds that online banks and smaller banks are offering lower fees than their traditional and larger counterparts in several key categories.

The fee increases mark a change from the end-of-2011 survey, which found that some bank fees were falling, including monthly service charges. But in the first half of 2012, nearly every measure in the study indicated a worsening fee environment for consumers:

  •     Average monthly, ATM and overdraft fees all rose.
  •     The average minimum checking-account balance required to avoid a monthly service fee jumped by more than $850.
  •     The proportion of checking accounts with no monthly service fee fell by more than 3 percentage points to 35.3 percent.
  •     Overdraft fees jumped for the second straight quarter to an average of $29.83.

“Consumers need to be on the alert,” says Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for “This is the most comprehensive rising fee trend we’ve seen in one of our checking account surveys, which means it is likely to affect more people than ever. This doesn’t just matter when you are shopping for a checking account. You need to watch for new fees popping up in your existing accounts.”

According to the survey, consumers are most likely to find lower fees by choosing either an online bank or a smaller bank (one with less than $5 billion in deposits). Checking accounts with no monthly fee were offered by more than two-thirds of the online banks in the survey, compared to only 34 percent of traditional banks.

Among traditional banks, 45.8 percent of smaller banks offered checking accounts with no monthly fee, while only 21 percent of the accounts offered at larger banks (those with more than $25 billion in deposits) followed suit.

“Consumers can still find good deals on checking accounts,” says Barrington. “But it helps to know where to look. Most importantly of all, though, consumers have to make the effort to shop around.”

For the full analysis, please see Bank Fees Survey Mid-2012: Checking and ATM costs jump again.

The Bank Fee 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 over 100 banks, including the 50 largest U.S. banks by deposit amount and a similar number of mid-sized banks. This sampling was constructed to be broadly representative of the general banking environment.

About 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. 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

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