ATM and check-bouncing fees reach record highs

Personal finance

Heard on NPR’s morning edition yesterday that just completed its and concluded that the average ATM surcharge fee has risen to $1.64 per transaction, and the average bounced-check fee has risen to a whopping $27.60. These fees are up 2.5% and 1.3% from Spring 2006. The study is worth a read-through. Here are a few of its other top findings:

  1. Opening deposit requirements on interest, noninterest accounts: highest yet.
  2. Balance requirements on interest accounts are at a new high.
  3. Monthly fees on noninterest accounts are at a record low.
  4. Fewer banks are charging their own customers for using another bank’s ATM.

The article also includes a how-to list to avoid fees, including:

  1. Being diligent about recording your transactions
  2. Setting up overdraft protection linked to a savings account
  3. Go for or money-market accounts instead of low-yielding checking accounts. Since you probably won’t be able to avoid ATM surcharges, you might as well make your money work harder for you instead of sticking with low-yielding checking accounts with large minimum balance requirements.
  4. Proactively manage your ATM withdrawals

Remember, at $1.64 surcharge per withdrawal, two withdrawals a week comes to over $160 in fees, not including the ones your own bank may be charging you for using another bank’s ATM.

Another thing worth remembering is that if you do get charged a fee, it never hurts to ask the bank if they would consider waiving it. Might not always work, especially now that banks are relying more and more upon fees as a steady revenue source, but you’d be surprised at the number of success stories, too.

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