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5 hidden costs of checking-account bonuses

The bank plans to make that money back
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The bank plans to make that money back

That $100 bonus may very well put you in the negative.

"Banks aren't offering this bonus out of the kindness of their heart," McBride says. "They expect to earn additional business that will more than offset the cost of the bonus over time."

That additional business can include everything from cross-selling other products and services, transaction-based debit and credit card fees, monthly checking fees and ATM charges, McBride says.

Those fees are increasing, too. Bankrate's 2011 Checking Account Survey showed ATM surcharges continued on their upward path to reach an average cost of $2.40. With some of the country's biggest banks testing monthly debit card fees, banks have plenty of ways to ensure they earn a return on checking-account bonuses.

Because of these soaring consumer costs, finding a free checking account may end up being a better decision for your personal bottom line.


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