BUSINESS

Not Just Debit Fees: Other Ways U.S. Banks Cost Customers

11/14/2011 06:56 pm ET

The era of the debit card fee may have come and gone, but plenty of bank charges remain.

Indeed, with all the talk of debit fees, it's easy to forget about all the other reasons banks will charge you. And as of October 2010, the median bank account had been issued a staggering 49 separate types of fees, ranging from $1.50 to $175, according to an April report by the Pew Charitable Trust. The report examined fees and policies at 10 of the largest banks in the United States.

Since last year, though, some things have changed. For example, while the Pew report estimated overdraft fees alone would cost Americans around $38 billion this year, Bloomberg Businessweek more recently found that number would fly in around $16 billion.

Other less-known fees, such as returned check fees and stop payment fees, cost customers an average $12 and $29 each, respectively. But with interest rates expected to remain near zero through 2013, according to the Federal Reserve, more fees may be on the horizon as banks struggle to raise revenue.

BofA has already seen one proposed fee fail this year. After announcing a five dollar debit card fee, BofA was forced to deal with widespread complaints from its customers. The bank ultimately abandoned the fee, but not after more than 650,000 people joined credit unions following BofA's debt announcement, more than in all of 2010.

And the fees continue to come, hidden or not. The Chicago Tribune reports that many big banks are instituting fees on previously-free services. Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase have upped their fees for entry-level services, according to the New York Times.

Banks have even put fees on customers who receive unemployment benefits. Surcharges paid by American welfare recipients will cost over $16 million this year, according to an analysis by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, cited by The Huffington Post.

Here is a rundown of the fees and policies associated with the median checking account as of October 2010, determined by the Pew Charitable Trust:

13 common bank fees and policies
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