[Begin VIDEO with Kristin Arnold, Bankrate.com anchor introducing the video topic]
Kristin Arnold: Bankrate.com has released its annual Checking Account study and here to discuss some of the findings is Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.
[Cut to a double screen of Kristin Arnold and Greg McBride]
Kristin: Let's talk about the fees that were surveyed, starting with monthly checking account fees.
Greg: Both interest and non-interest accounts saw big increases in monthly service fees. On an interest account the average fee is now over $14 and to get that fee waived you typically have to keep $5,000 in the account or at that bank. Non-interest accounts are a comparative bargain, the average fee is under $5 dollars. You can avoid that by keeping less than, on average, $600 in the account or very often through direct deposit.
Kristin: What did the survey find on ATM fees?
Greg: The fee that is charged by the ATM owner by a non-account owner, which is known as a surcharge, it increased, hitting a record high for the seventh consecutive year. But the fee your banks charges when you go outside the network, that was unchanged. We are seeing more accounts that do allow free out-of-network withdrawals. When it comes to avoiding ATM fees you do have to plan ahead. You want to make sure you're making that withdrawal either at your bank's ATMs or in the network.
Kristin: How about overdraft fees?
Greg: Overdraft fees were up slightly relative to a year ago, about one percent. The average fee now is almost $31 and that has increased every single year we've done this survey, dating back to 1998. Now even though this fee takes the biggest bite it's also the easily avoided. It's really important to monitor your available account balance online. You can also sign up for email and text alerts ... as well as set up a link between your checking and savings account.
Kristin: Finally, there has been a lot of talk surrounding debit cards. How common are debit card fees?
Greg: Debit card fees are still rare. Only about four percent of accounts actually charge you a point-of-sale fee whenever you actually use the debit card. Fewer than two percent of accounts charge a monthly or annual fee for carrying a debit card.
[Cut to one shot of Kristin on camera]
Kristin: Thank you Greg ... very timely information. To see more of Bankrate.com's annual Checking Account study and tips on avoiding fees, go to Bankrate.com.