Free Checking Down, ATM and Overdraft Fees Up -- But Only Slightly

NEW YORK, Sept. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Only 38% of banks offer free non-interest checking accounts to all customers, according to Bankrate.com's (NYSE: RATE) 16th annual checking survey. The average overdraft fee is up for a 15th consecutive year, increasing three percent to a record-high $32.20. And the average cost for going outside the ATM network is $4.13, a new high that is up two percent from last year.

The full survey is available here:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/checking/checking-account-fees-rise-but-less-steeply-1.aspx

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130805/FL58072LOGO)

"The higher overdraft and ATM fees roughly correlate with the rate of inflation," said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com's senior financial analyst. "And while free checking isn't as common as it was just a few years ago, the decline slowed to a trickle this year. With a little bit of research, most consumers should be able to find a free checking account that meets their needs."

Free Checking
The availability of free checking has fallen four years in a row after peaking at 76% in 2009. After falling to 65% in 2010 and 45% in 2011, the availability of a free checking account fell only six percentage points in 2012 and just one percentage point in 2013.

The aforementioned percentages refer to non-interest accounts that have no monthly fees for all customers. Ninety-seven percent of checking accounts are either free or can become free if the accountholder meets certain requirements such as direct deposit (the most common option for non-interest checking accounts) or a minimum balance (the most common for interest checking accounts).

ATM Fees
There are two different ATM fees that consumers typically encounter when using an out-of-network ATM: the ATM surcharge assessed by the ATM owner and the fee that one's own bank charges for using an out-of-network ATM (often known as the foreign fee). While the average ATM surcharge rose four percent to $2.60 over the past 12 months, the average foreign fee fell three percent to $1.53.

Non-Interest Checking Accounts
The average minimum balance required to open a non-interest checking account fell 19% to $60.27. The average remains in the familiar range between $55 and $88 where it has been each year since 1998. The average balance requirement to avoid fees decreased eight percent to $668.48. And the average monthly service fee for a non-interest checking account increased one percent to $5.54.

Interest Checking Accounts
Only three percent of interest checking accounts are free for all customers (unchanged from last year). Ninety-five percent will waive the fee (most commonly if the accountholder meets a minimum balance requirement averaging $5,802, down five percent from last year). The average monthly service fee dipped less than one percent, to $14.64. That is a big departure from the past six years which saw a significant run-up in monthly fees. The average yield is 0.05% and the most common payout is 0.01% (both are unchanged from last year).

Debit Card Fees
Debit card fees assessed at the point of sale are still rare. Only four percent of checking accounts charge such a fee, most commonly for PIN usage. Fees for carrying a debit card continue to be a non-issue, with fewer than one percent of accounts imposing a debit card fee, the same as last year.

Highest Average ATM  Fees


Lowest Average ATM Fees*

1.

Denver

$4.70


1.

Baltimore

$3.59

2.

Milwaukee

$4.59


2.

Los Angeles

$3.70

3.

Atlanta 

$4.45


3.

Boston

$3.72

4.

Phoenix

$4.44


4.

Pittsburgh

$3.76

5.

Houston  

$4.38


5.

Philadelphia

$3.90








Highest Average Overdraft Fees


Lowest Average Overdraft Fees

1.

Milwaukee

$4.70


1.

San Francisco

$27.18

T2.

Atlanta

$4.59


2.

Los Angeles

$29.59

T2.

Denver 

$4.45


T3.

Cincinnati

$30.32

4.

Miami

$4.44


T3.

Cleveland

$30.32

5.

Houston  

$4.38


5.

San Diego

$30.78

*Reflects both ATM fees combined (those charged by the ATM operator and those charged by the consumer's own financial institution)

Bankrate surveyed a total of 10 banks and thrifts in each of 25 large U.S. markets. This included one interest and one non-interest account at 245 institutions that offer checking accounts. In total, 240 interest and 233 non-interest accounts were surveyed in August 2013.

About Bankrate, Inc.
Bankrate is a leading publisher, aggregator, and distributor of personal finance content on the Internet. Bankrate provides consumers with proprietary, fully researched, comprehensive, independent and objective personal finance editorial content across multiple vertical categories including mortgages, deposits, insurance, credit cards, and other categories, such as retirement, automobile loans, and taxes. The Bankrate network includes Bankrate.com, our flagship website, and other owned and operated personal finance websites, including CreditCards.com, Interest.com, Bankaholic.com, Mortgage-calc.com, CreditCardGuide.com, Nationwide Card Services, InsuranceQuotes.com, CarInsuranceQuotes.com, InsureMe, Bankrate.com.cn, CreditCards.ca, NetQuote.com, and CD.com. Bankrate aggregates rate information from over 4,800 institutions on more than 300 financial products. With coverage of nearly 600 local markets in all 50 U.S. states, Bankrate generates over 172,000 distinct rate tables capturing on average over three million pieces of information daily. Bankrate develops and provides web services to over 80 co-branded websites with online partners, including some of the most trusted and frequently visited personal finance sites on the Internet such as Yahoo!, AOL, CNBC, and Bloomberg. In addition, Bankrate licenses editorial content to over 500 newspapers on a daily basis including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.

For more information:

Ted Rossman
Public Relations Manager
Bankrate, Inc.
ted.rossman@bankrate.com  
(917) 368-8635

SOURCE Bankrate, Inc.



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