Average ATM fees up to $4.13; overdraft fees up, slightly, also

by Bob Sullivan on September 30, 2013

GotchaCoverATM fees are up, overdraft fees are up, and the availability of free checking accounts is down, according to a new survey.

But the rate of bad news is slowly, according to the data collected by BankRate.com. At least that’s something.

Consumers fork over an average of $4.13 to access their own money per out-of-network ATM withdrawal now, up roughly 8 cents.  The average overdraft fee is now $32.20, a record high, but an increase of only 3 percent from last year.  Free, simple, non-interest checking account availabilty has plummetted from being offered by 76 percent of banks in 2009 to only 38 percent this year, that the drop is only 1 percent from last year.

“The higher overdraft and ATM fees roughly correlate with the rate of inflation,” said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst. “And while free checking isn’t as common as it was just a few years ago, the decline slowed to a trickle this year. With a little bit of research, most consumers should be able to find a free checking account that meets their needs.”

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What consumers know as the ATM fee is actually two fees — one charged by the bank which owns the machine distributing the cash, and the other charged by the account holder’s bank. Interestingly, banks are charging their own customers less, while charging others more.  The average ATM surcharge — the machine fee — rose four percent to $2.60 over the past 12 months, while the average account holder fee fell three percent to $1.53.

Consumers can avoid fees by maintaining a large deposit at the bank, or utilizing direct deposit of payroll checks. The average minimum balance requirement is  $5,802, Bankrate says.

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