NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If there's one dangerous place to be in the financial world, it's between a bank and its fees. After all, banks make $30 billion annually on checking account fees alone.
But that's exactly where you should be: taking a stand on onerous bank fees on services that are either overrated or that you don't need at all.
That's the outlook from Take Charge America, a Phoenix, Ariz., nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency that says there are plenty of bank fees you really shouldn't be paying, but it's hard for the average consumer to figure out exactly which can be avoided with no repercussions.
"In many cases, people don't realize how much they're paying out, as the charges are automatically deducted from checking accounts or tacked onto credit card statements," says Mike Sullivan, chief education officer at the nonprofit. "It can seriously add up from month to month, year to year."
What fees can you bypass and ignore? Sullivan has a pretty good checklist:
Checking account fees. Most banks offer free accounts with no fees; they just don't broadcast their availability on a regular basis. Try an online bank or community bank first -- they're your best bets for free checking accounts, Sullivan says.
Low balance fees. Banks love to charge customers if checking or savings accounts fall below a required minimum balance, but will likely waive the fee if you make a fuss. More and more banks are dropping low balance fees altogether.