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How to Avoid New Checking Fees Before They Happen

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- It looks like Wells Fargo (WFC) has put another nail in the free checking coffin. The bank confirmed Thursday that it plans to add a $7 checking account fee in six more states.

The news follows last week's report that Bank of America (BAC) has been testing deposit and service fees among new customers.

Wells Fargo may be the latest bank to institute more checking account fees, but it certainly won't be the last.

In both instances, the fees in question aren't entirely new. Wells' Essentials Checking Account, which costs $7 a month, was rolled out in several other states last year and Bank of America has been testing monthly fees on checking accounts in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts since January 2011.

But they're also not likely to be the last new or raised checking account fee introduced in 2012. Big banks are still looking for ways to recoup funds lost to interchange fee limits that went into effect back in October, and there's already a new threat to traditional revenue streams on the horizon. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced just last month that it is looking into overdraft practices, whose netted banks $29.5 billion last year.

The regulatory changes, past and present, have led most major banks to widen their tiered checking account options, which waive fees and offer bigger rewards if customers sign up for more services.

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