ATM and Overdraft Fees Up Again [AUDIO]
This may come as no surprise, but we’re paying even more to use our banks.
That’s according to Bankrate.com’s 16th annual checking survey which finds that the average overdraft fee is up three percent to a record-high $32.20 while the average cost for going outside the ATM network is $4.13, up two percent from last year.
The survey also found that only 38 percent of banks offer free non-interest checking accounts.
“Overdraft fees were up for a 15th consecutive year. ATM fees are up for a ninth straight year. Both hit new record highs, but the pace of those increases has moderated considerable from what we’ve seen over the past several years. This year, the increases were more in line with inflation and I think that’s what we can expect going forward,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “The fact is, these fees are not going to reverse themselves any time soon, so consumers need to be vigilant and strategize on how to avoid those fees.”
McBride offers the following recommendations for avoiding the fees:
-Stay in your ATM network
-Plan your withdrawals ahead of time
-Get cash back at the point of sale when using a debit card
-Utilize online and mobile access to keep tabs on your available account balance to avoid overdraft fees
-Sign up for emails and text alerts to let you know when your balance is below a certain level
Free checking has been cut in half since 2009, but you have to search a little bit harder to find the banks that offer the service.
“You can still find free checking at smaller community banks and online banks. Even at banks that charge a fee for checking, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get stuck paying the fee. In a majority of cases, that fee can be waived if you sign up for direct deposit or if you have other accounts with the bank,” said McBride.