Hidden bank fees uncovered

October 28, 2008 11:58:39 AM PDT
You may have felt like you're being hit with more bank fees these days, it's true. A new survey from Bankrate.com finds that consumers are now shelling out more money for banking services than ever before.

"The bank got greedy," said Suzanne Grenoble.

Suzanne Grenoble is angry because a bank charged her college-aged daughter $650 in bounced check fees after she overdrew her account by a $100.

"I felt like Alice in Wonderland, like I fell through the looking glass. Nothing makes sense anymore," said Grenoble.

She's not alone. Bankrate.com found the average overdraft fee is now $29 --34-percent higher than a decade ago. Plus, some banks process the largest check you write in a day first, which can make several smaller checks of yours bounce. Multiple overdrafts mean multiple fees for the bank.

. "Of course I'm frustrated. Angry," said Grenoble.

Pull out cash at another bank's ATM and you could pay a total of $3.43-cents in fees these days. Say you take out $40. That's like paying more than 8-percent interest to get your money. The banking industry points out ATM and overdraft fees are totally avoidable if you manage your money well and says the majority of consumers pay $3 or less a month to do their banking.

"Fees are reducing. I mean the cost of having a monthly checking account Fee has gone down dramatically," said Diane Casey-Landry, American Bankers Association.

But a government study found many banks do a poor job of informing customers about the fees they may face. Copies of old checks - $5; paying by phone: as much as $15; stopping payment on a check - just under $20; deposit somebody else's bad check and that'll cost you $12. And if you set up a line of credit to cover your own overdrafts, you'll pay as much as $10 every time you activate it -- plus interest.

"I would suggest if you don't like the fees that your bank is charging, that you need to go out and shop around. With 8,500 institutions out there, there's plenty of choice, plenty of opportunities for you to set up the account that is best for you," said Casey-Landry.


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