With interest rates low across the board, it's now fees that can have the greatest impact on your account balance at any given bank. To get a sense of what customers are paying now, consider this: Last year, the three largest U.S. banks—Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase—made $6 billion in ATM and overdraft fees alone.
How prevalent are these fees? According to research from Novantas and Money, more than two-thirds of brick-and-mortar banks offer a checking account with no maintenance fee—but most require a minimum balance, direct deposit, or a combination of factors. In fact, just one big bank that Money surveyed, Key Bank, offered a checking account with absolutely no fee regardless of balance.
And there are other fees to consider. The average out-of-network ATM fee is $2.25 per transaction for a brick-and-mortar, and $1.25 at credit unions, Novantas found—although just $0.30 at online banks. And the average overdraft fee $33.59 at brick-and-mortar banks and $27.61 for credit unions—although, again, online banks ring in significantly lower, at $19.13 on average. (Money’s Best Online Bank winner, Bank of the Internet, has no overdraft fee on three of its checking accounts.)
No one should have to pay these—that’s why Money’s annual Best Banks analysis takes a serious look at what your bank charges you. All of Money’s winning banks had to offer a checking account without a maintenance fee, or one that was waived with no more than a $5,000 average balance. We also prioritized banks that don't charge outside ATM fees, or reimburse some of those fees each month.
Fees may be out of control. But, with Money’s help, you can avoid them.