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Is Your Bank Raising Fees?

After last year’s struggles over bank fees [3], things settled down a bit. Consumers fought back against debit card fees, and other fees. Many banks backed off.

However, the story doesn’t end. Now that some of the furor over bank fees has died down, some banks are now revisiting their fee increases. Many of the fees aren’t as obvious as attaching a monthly fee to your debit card, though. Most of them are increases on existing fees.

Fees Edge Higher

The web site MoneyRates tracks the fees charged by banks, and reports on them. In the first half of 2012, the most recent survey indicated that the monthly services fees charged by banks averaged $12.08, which is an increase over the $11.28 average seen at the end of 2011. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it does indicate that banks are starting to get involved in raising their fees, even if it is by small amounts.

One way that banks can raise their fees without receiving much notice from their customers is by changing the requirements that allow customers to avoid fees. My bank, for example, waives the monthly fee when a certain number of transactions are completed each month, or if a minimum balance is maintained. There are banks raising the minimum balance, as well as requiring a greater number of transactions.

It’s not just monthly service fees heading higher, however. Other fees that are moving slightly higher include ATM fees and overdraft fees. At first, the slight uptick might not be noticeable to you. Indeed, your bank might not be one of those affected. However, the trend indicates that bank fees [4] are on the rise, and there is a good chance that your bank could be one of them.

Pay Attention to Your Bank Communications

While it can be tedious to read through the information your bank sends you, it’s important to do so. Often, communications come with your bank statement. Make sure you read these notices as you prepare to reconcile your account [5]. Sometimes, though, you won’t see the notices with your statement, and you will need read everything else your bank sends you.

Be on your guard, since you will want to know if your bank is raising its fees. You don’t want to be caught paying fees, or ending up in an overdraft situation because you didn’t realize that fees were being charged to your account. Instead of paying fees to your bank, you can switch banks [6], and take your business elsewhere. Paying attention to your finances, and what is happening with your bank is vital if you expect to keep more of your money for you.

Banks will always try to make more money; they are businesses and designed to make a profit. Plus, regulations limiting transaction fees, and other types of fees are cutting into revenue. Banks seek to make up for it by charging fees to customers more directly. Be vigilant, and make sure you don’t end up a victim of these rising fees.

(Photo: I-5 Design & Manufacture [7])