This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

How to Avoid Escalating Bank Fees

Stocks in this article: BAC WFC JPM STI RF C

NEW YORK ( -- The banking news over the past days has been very unpleasant for consumers. Fees are rising at a number of major banks.

Bank of America (BAC) made headlines when it announced it would charge $5 per month on debit card use beginning next year, and the nation's largest bank in terms of assets was not the first bank to assess this charge. Wells Fargo (WFC) and Chase (JPM) are testing a monthly debit card fee in selected states, and SunTrust (STI) and Regions (RF) are already charging a fee to many of their customers. Other banks could follow.

Bank of America made headlines when it announced it would charge $5 per month on debit card use, but it's just one bank among many adding fees.

Around the same time as the Bank of America announcement, Citibank (C) began notifying customers it is increasing the fees on its checking accounts.

What should consumers do to avoid these escalating bank fees?

Become informed consumers
Bank customers need to find out what fees will be charged to their specific account. Since banks have to send information on new charges, be sure to read the notices you get. If those notices are too hard to understand, call your bank and ask a worker to make the changes (and charges) clear.

After fully understanding them, ask what you can do to avoid them. It may be that the charges could be waived if you carry a higher minimum balance, expand your banking relationship by opening up an additional account, do some online banking or limit the number of transactions.

Make some personal decisions
When it comes to a monthly debit card fee, you need to decide if it's really worth having a debit card for that monthly cost. If you are a Bank of America customer, is it worth $60 per year to have a debit card? Perhaps you should switch to using cash, checks or a credit card. But you may also be disciplined enough to use a credit card -- not only in limiting what you buy but also paying off the entire balance on time each month so you don't incur steep finance charges.

Shop around for alternatives
If you decide that these new charges are too much to pay, know there are plenty of financial institutions that don't charge a monthly fee for a checking account or debit card use. Now may be the time for you to consider a community bank, credit union or an online bank.

But be sure to investigate the restrictions and fees of each alternative institution you consider. Be sure to take your own spending habits and personal needs into account. It could be that the smaller bank doesn't have ATMs where you most frequently work and shop, and your use of "outside" ATM machines could cost you as much as your current bank's new fees. The responsibility is on the consumer to discover the fees you could be assessed at a new financial institution.

>To submit a news tip, email:


Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Bill Hardekopf is chief executive of, which compares and rates more than 1,000 credit cards. He is the co-author of "The Credit Card Guidebook."

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,804.80 +26.65 0.15%
S&P 500 2,070.65 +9.42 0.46%
NASDAQ 4,765.38 +16.9840 0.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs