How Banks Pile On 50 Different Fees, Charge up to $700 for Checking Accounts

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The average annual bank checking account cost for the "Everyday Joe," as one study says, is $151.

The gap between the lowest-cost and highest-cost checking accounts is a lot more than you probably think, though, with that pricing disparity more often than not coming down to fees.

It has to, for banks. Financial institutions earned $31.9 billion in overdraft fees alone last year, down from $37 billion in 2009, before the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill curbed the costs of bank fees to consumers. Banks just are not going to turn their backs on billions in fees, so it's up to consumers to find the checking accounts that cost less.

That's where the "Everyday Joe" study, more formally known as the WalletHub Annual Checking Account Transparency Report, shines some much-needed light. In a time when consumers can incur a fee for simply speaking to a bank teller, the study provides a good glance under the hood of how bank fees and administrative costs can help elevate the "price" of a checking account (yes, even a free one) and give some direction to consumers on what kinds of bank account activity to avoid to save money on fees and charges.

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