Avoiding monthly service fees gets harder
For those checking accounts that already require you to keep a minimum average balance, that minimum was up sharply from the 2009 average of $185.75. The minimum average balance for a noninterest checking account is now $249.50, an increase of $63.75 in just one year. Overall, that number is 228 percent higher than 2008's average of $109.26.
Interest-bearing checking accounts have a history of requiring hefty balances to keep from incurring fees, and this year is no different. Mirroring their noninterest brethren, the average minimum to avoid fees on an interest checking account rose $511.22 to $3,883.40.
Tip: Interest checking account holders who consistently get caught below the minimum should consider going with a noninterest checking account linked for easy transfers to a high-interest savings account. That way, they can get financial flexibility similar to an interest checking account, without having to park a large chunk of money at an interest rate averaging 0.1 percent to avoid service fees, says McBride.