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Most consumers beat bank fees

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

If you've been complaining about bank fees, it turns out that you're in the minority.

A new survey from the American Bankers Association shows that 71 percent of account holders aren't paying a dime for their banking services.  The survey, conducted by market research firm Ipsos Public Affairs, asked more than 2,000 adults how much money they pay in bank fees each month. The results may seem surprising amid the deafening roar from consumers over rising fees.

Here is the complete picture.

  • 71 percent -- Nothing.
  • 11 percent -- $3 or less
  • 6 percent -- $4 to $6
  • 4 percent -- $7 to $9
  • 7 percent -- $10 or more

Of course, many of these respondents may jump over additional hurdles in order to avoid any bank fees. Still, whether they arrange direct deposits or keep their monthly balance above a certain threshold, these account holders prove that opening a checking account doesn't have to mean forking over your cash.

If you can classify yourself with those who are paying more than $10 each month, it's time to analyze your banking services to determine what you can do to slice those fees.

Are you visiting another bank's ATM and being charged to take out cash? Use your debit card to get cash back for free at a grocery or convenience store. Are you still cashing paper checks? Find out if your employer can deposit your earnings directly into your account. Are you guilty of the biggest banking sin of them all? If you've overdrawn your account, it's time to get a handle on how much accessible cash you have at all times.

If it turns out you simply cannot avoid those fees in your current situation, it may be wise to consider switching financial homes. Many community banks and credit unions continue to offer truly free checking.

Are you part of the majority of banking customers who pay nothing for your services? What have you done to ensure managing your finances remains free?

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