The Fine Print: Bank fees soar
'Tis the season to spend some money. But if you're not careful, that's an increasingly pricey proposition. According to a report from Bankrate.com, the fee for bounced checks now averages $28.95, up 2.5% from last year. Average ATM surcharges now run $1.97, an 11% increase from a year before. Meanwhile, to avoid monthly fees for an interest-bearing checking account, you now need to maintain an average minimum balance of $3,461.84, up 4% from 2007.
With considerable understatement, Bankrate's senior financial analyst, Greg McBride, had this to say: "In today's uncertain economic environment when every dollar counts, it is more important than ever for consumers to be vigilant about avoiding bank fees."
Meantime, CreditCards.com reminds us that plastic isn't tied to the prime rate, so consumers shouldn't expect the latest rate cut by the Federal Reserve to offer much in the way of relief. The average interest rate for credit cards now tops 11%. Shop wisely.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: A woman uses an ATM at a Bank of America branch in Los Angeles on Oct. 7.
Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images