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Bank fees rise to record high: Study


The costs of checking account fees have risen to an all-time high this year as banks seek to make up revenue they'll lose from new federal rules aimed at protecting consumers, according to a Bankrate, Inc., study released today.

The good news for Chicagoans is that Chicago is absent from lists of the top five cities nationwide with the highest ATM and bounced-check fees, the study shows.

Yet many people will start seeing monthly service fees on their banking statements for the first time since the second Bush administration. That's because banks are seeking to regain revenue they will lose from new rules requiring them to stop charging people for overdraft protection unless the customer opts in, and limiting what banks charge retailers for debit-card transactions.

"It's no surprise we're seeing higher balance requirements and higher monthly service fees on the heels of this legislation that is really working to crimp these two revenue streams that banks have come to rely on," said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com.

Banks already have raised fees for interest- and non-interest-bearing checking accounts, the study said. Non-interest accounts increased 40 percent this year from last year, to $2.49. The monthly fee for not maintaining a minimum balance on an interest checking account increased about 4 percent, to an average of $13.04.

ATM fees jumped 5 percent this year from last year to an all-time high of $2.33. The average fee that banks charge for using an out-of-network ATM rose about 7 percent, to an average of $1.41.

The top five cities nationwide for ATM fees were Seattle ($2.69), Denver ($2.65), Houston ($2.63), Miami ($2.56) and New York ($2.55). The top five for bounced-check fees are Dallas ($33), Miami ($32.84), Houston ($32.74), Phoneix ($32) and Denver ($31.79).

Consumers can save money by saving in-network for their ATM withdrawals - up to $620 a year - and avoiding checking account overdrafts.

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