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.

3. Account closed early 

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.

5. ATM

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.



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