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How Can Concordians Tackle Record-High ATM and Checking Account Fees?

Bank charges have hit all-time highs. Free checking accounts have all but disappeared. ATM charges are up. Have you noticed? Are you doing anything about it, like switching banks?

Has your bank raised fees on checking accounts and ATM transactions?

If so, you're not alone.

A survey by the trade industry group Bankrate.com found that "almost every checking fee we follow went up, with some bank fees rising 25 percent or more."

Free checking accounts are fast disappearing too. Bankrate found that just 39 percent of non-interest checking accounts are free of charge to all customers — down from 45 percent last year and a peak of 76 percent in 2009.

The same group said poll results suggest that 72 percent of Americans would consider switching banks if their financial institution raised its fees. That figure was 64 percent in March 2011.

A fee revolt swept the nation at the end of 2011 when a grassroots campaign — Move Our Money — persuaded many Americans to move their money from big banks to community banks or credit unions.

One way to explore whether or not it's time to change banks is to use online comparison tools, such as FindABetterBank.com or through BankRate.com's comparison charts.

Fees at Major Banks in Concord

Bank Min. Balance to Open Min. Balance to Avoid Fees Monthly Fees Insufficient Funds Fee Fee at Other ATMs Chase Bank $25 $1500 $10 $34 $2 Wells Fargo $100 $1500 $9 $25 $3 Bank of the West $100 $1000 $10 $26 $2 Bank of America $25 $1500 $12 $35 $2 Citi Bank $0 $1500 $10 $34 $2

Have you recognized a rise in ATM and checking fees? Are you doing anything about it, like switching banks? Share your experience in the comments, and any tips for avoiding extra charges.

Keith Coppage September 24, 2012 at 09:06 PM
What's the big deal? Who's forcing people to put their money in these money grabbing black holes? Investigate credit unions. They're local, have a responsibility to their members, many great promotions, seminars, discount opportunities and so on. Concord Diablo (now Western Financial) has free checking; most credit unions do. The service is the same if not better than banks, and their co-op network of ATMs assure free or low-cost withdrawls at ATM's all over the country. They support local business and activities, too. Why anyone pays for a bank to make money off their own hard-earned deposits is beyond me. Everyone in Concord qualifies for membership at at least one local credit union. There is no reason whatsoever for anyone to make money off your money except you.
Emily Henry September 24, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Keith, I think the reason people don't investigate credit unions is just lack of information and visibility. The big banks are all over the place, so it seems "easier" and more convenient...
jeff kirin September 24, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Free market works both ways, check out CalPIRG’s tips to switch to banks with lower fees at : http://www.calpirg.org/news/caf/higher-bank-fees-now-norm-consumers

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