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Fees and surcharges seem to be an unavoidable part of living in a world where banking is big business. If you keep your financial situation simple, diligently shop around, and keep an eye on your money, you can avoid may of the more common fees. In theory, you could increase your fee-avoidance ability by keeping your money outside of the banking and investing system, but that's an extreme approach that just isn't feasible for modern life in the United States.
Even the most diligent savers and frugal minds can find themselves faced with fees. They tend to lurk behind corners, waiting in the fine print, for the right time to strike, taking consumers by surprise. Other times, the fees present themselves up front but seem unavoidable.
The fees banks charge their consumers serve several purposes. The first purpose is simply to increase revenue. The second purpose is to modify their customers' behavior. Well-publicized fees can dissuade customers from partaking in an activity the bank would like to avoid, while the purpose of carefully hidden fees is generally to increase profit. Rationalizations for fees fall into these two categories.
The reason banks charge a variety of fees is simple. They do it because they can. Customers like to complain about paying more money than necessary for the services banks provide, but unless they're willing to close accounts and find alternatives, banks can continue to operate as they are. And don't worry; if you want to vote with your feet, there's probably a fee for that.
That happens to be the first fee I'll discuss in this compilation of the five most annoying banking fees. These are all fees that I've experienced, even after I was more attuned to my personal finance situation. The fees I've included in this list are pervasive; many, but not all, institutions may assess these charges. In addition to their pervasiveness, these fees are unnecessary from the customer's perspective. They are usually avoidable with some research or planning, but once you find yourself faced with a fee, there is often little you can do to avoid it.