Another change that occurred is
that the most common surcharge assessed is no
longer $1.50, as it had been in all previous editions
of the study. The baton has been passed and now
the most prevalent charge is $2, a change signifying
the steady march higher in ATM fees levied to
And for some banks they are rising even more. Bank of America recently increased its surcharge in most markets to $3.
Not only has the fee itself moved
higher, but the prevalence of ATM surcharges is
now nearly universal. As of the current survey,
99 percent of banks with ATMs -- yes, 99 percent
-- charge noncustomers for using the bank's ATMs.
See ATM details.
between interest and noninterest
The skinny on interest and noninterest checking
accounts is nothing new, but it bears repeating.
Interest checking accounts at brick-and-mortar
banks offer very little in the way of interest
but extract a lot of blood in the form of high
balance requirements and lofty monthly service
Noninterest accounts, on the other
hand, are characterized by very low minimum deposits,
while the balance requirements and monthly service
fees are conspicuously absent. The landscape of
noninterest accounts is frequently populated with
free checking accounts.
The findings in the current survey certainly underscore those
truths. Start with the minimum balance to open
a checking account. For a noninterest account,
the average amount required is just $83.02, down
from $87.67 last year. For an interest-bearing
account, you'll need to plunk down 60 percent
more than was the case last year, $986.19, compared
to $615.41, to open the account and earn interest.
In fairness, you may be able to open the account
for less, but the threshold it takes to earn interest
keeps moving higher.
And what do you earn for your trouble?
A paltry 0.32 percent. But this rate of interest,
which is anything but interesting, is nothing
compared to the fees.
On an interest-bearing checking
account, the average monthly service fee is $11.72,
nearly $1 higher than last year's average of $10.74.
Ninety-five percent of the interest accounts in
the survey charge a monthly service fee. And the
number of banks raising the fee since the last
survey outnumbered those cutting the fee 47-to-5!
See interest yield details.