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Exclusive   2008 Checking Study
  The 2008 study reports another record-high year for fees  
  on everything from ATM use to bounced checks.  
Interest accounts

Interest accounts require high minimums

It's great to get interest on your checking account balance, but the trade-off can be awful. Interest-bearing checking accounts at brick-and-mortar banks traditionally require hefty minimum balances if you want to earn the interest and an even higher balance if you want to avoid a hefty monthly service fee. Pay just one of those fees in a year and it probably will wipe out the interest earned for that year, because the rates on these accounts typically are minuscule.

Noninterest checking accounts are the best bet for most people. They usually require a low minimum deposit to open the account and a low minimum balance to avoid monthly service fees.

The average balance required to open an interest-bearing account and earn interest is $376.75. The average interest paid on these accounts is 0.24 percent, down from 0.32 percent a year ago. But if you'd like to avoid monthly fees, you'll need to maintain an average balance of $3,461.84, a stunning amount and an increase of approximately 4 percent over last year. If you maintain that balance, you're basically giving your bank a line of credit for that amount at your expense. That monthly fee, by the way, is $11.97, up from $11.72 last year.

Average balance requirement (interest)
  -- Posted: Oct. 27, 2008
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