Fees, fees and more fees
When you open a checking account, ask the bank for a printed copy of its fee schedule. It just might stun you. You’ll quickly realize how costly it can be to ask the bank for a duplicate statement, a cashier’s check, a stop payment or a host of other services you may need.
Here’s a rundown of some of the more common services associated with checking accounts for which banks charge a fee. We aren’t listing the actual fees because they vary from bank to bank and year to year.
1. Abandoned account
State laws vary, but if your account is dormant for a long time — usually three or five years — the bank hands the proceeds to the state, but not before deducting a hefty fee.
2. Account maintenance fee
Some accounts charge a monthly fee no matter what the balance.
Banks differ but, generally, if you close an account within 90 or 180 days, you’ll be charged a fee.
4. Account research/reconciliation
This is usually a per-hour fee that’s charged if there’s a discrepancy between your records and the bank’s; often the bank will charge a minimum of one hour.
If you use an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank, you’ll probably be charged a fee by your bank and a surcharge by the owner of the ATM.
6. ATM/debit card replacement
Lose a card and you may get one new card a year for free if your bank is nice, but you’ll pay for any beyond that.
7. Check printing
Most accounts charge for checks.
8. Coin counting
Some banks won’t charge customers or children for this service, but most will charge non-customers.
9. Counter checks
Forget your checkbook or run out of checks? The bank may give you a few for free but charge a fee beyond that.
10. Credit reference
If you need to rely on the bank for a credit reference, expect to pay.
11. Debit card
Purchases made with a debit card are deducted from your checking account. Unfortunately, a growing number of banks are charging a fee for every purchase.
12. Deposited item returned (DIR)
If you deposit a check in your account and the check bounces, you’ll be charged a fee.
13. Early-withdrawal fee for CDs
Imposed when you close a CD account before maturity.
14. Inactive account
This monthly or quarterly charge is assessed if you have no deposits or withdrawals over a specific period of time. Some banks charge if your account has been inactive for as few as 90 days. You may be able to avoid a fee if your balance is above a certain level. Some institutions don’t start an inactivity fee until the account has been dormant for one year.
15. Money orders/cashier’s check
A cashier’s check will cost more than a money order.
16. Monthly service fee
Charged if a checking account balance falls below a certain amount.
17. Non-sufficient funds (NSF)
Bounce a check and you’ll pay one of the highest per-item fees banks charge.
18. Notary fees
A notary public is someone who can certify or attest to documents. If you need something notarized, you’ll pay a variety of fees depending on the document.
If you overdraw your account and the bank pays the check or debit, it will charge you a fee. The benefit is your check doesn’t bounce and you don’t get charged a fee by the business that accepted your check.
20. Return of checks with statement
You used to be able to get your canceled checks returned for free; now many banks charge a monthly fee for that service.
21. Safe deposit box
An annual rental fee based on the size of the box.
22. Stop payment
Imposed when you use a check to pay for something and then change your mind.
23. Teller fee
Some accounts require you to do most transactions online, at the ATM or by phone. These accounts usually limit the number of times you can visit a teller each month and charge a fee for additional visits.