Money Matters: Avoid banks' checking account fees
The average checking account has more than three dozen different fees. but there are certain moves consumers can take to avoid them. YNN's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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If you feel like you're being nickle and dimed at your bank, you're probably right.
"They are looking for ways to raise money and the customer naturally comes to mind," says Consumer Reports Executive Editor Greg Daugherty.
"Currently in the market, the average checking account has over 43 different fees," says MyBankTracker.com CEO and co-founder Alex Matjanek.
The latest to make headlines was from Bank of America, which has been testing new checking accounts in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts. One is geared toward online-only banking.
"It's a free account that carries zero fees if you choose not to interact with them on a face to face manner," says Matjanek.
Step into a branch to work with a teller, and the consumer will be hit with a fee.
Other accounts allow consumers to avoid fees by maintaining a higher balance or having more than one account, like a checking account and a mortgage. Matjanek says this is part of an industry movement to encourage "relationship banking."
"It's easier to jump ship when you only have a checking account. It's harder when you have checking, a mortgage and maybe a mutual fund with that bank," says Matjanek.
Bank of America made headlines a few months ago when they announced plans to charge a $5 monthly fee for using a debit card. Those plans were scrapped following a public outcry, a tide-turning moment, according to Daugherty.
"It showed also that consumers can mobilize either to get a bank to back down or if need be, leave, try some other bank," says Daugherty.
Not that leaving should be your first step, should your bank propose new fees. Experts say before you take your money and run, try to negotiate.
"Say, 'I've been a long term customer. Is there something you can do for me? Is there a different type of account that I wouldn't have to pay fees on?'" says Daugherty.
A spokesperson for Bank of America stresses that the tested checking accounts are for new customers only. She says they have no plans to impose these changes on existing accounts. As for rolling the new options out nationally, she says no decision has been made.