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New bank fees to watch for in 2012
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New bank fees to watch for in 2012

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New bank fees to watch for in 2012

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — As a bank customer, you may have experienced some pretty big changes lately, including a shift in debit-reward programs and a scary but ultimately unsuccessful push to introduce debit-card usage fees. But you should steel yourself for more changes in 2012.

The fact is, banks are still working to recover from the estimated $10 billion hit to revenue as a result of new laws and regulations.

“If the theme of 2011 was fee reorganization, 2012 is going to be all about structuring a new fee foundation,” said Alex Matjanec, co-founder of

Already, a checking-account customer may be charged as many as 49 different fees — and that’s just the median number of fees, according to a study by the Pew Institute of 250 types of checking accounts offered by the 10 largest U.S. banks. See an infographic of the Pew's study results here.

Many new or higher fees are designed to offset revenue losses from the 2009 Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act and other new regulations, or simply to help banks reduce their costs by, for instance, encouraging you to use the Internet.

“New fees that you’ve never heard of before, such as those for getting paper statements, will be coming,” said Pam Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union. Read more: Your bank wants to be your new best friend.Read more: High fees? Here’s how to fire your bank.
Here are more changes you’re likely to see in the year ahead.

Overdraft fees
It’s painful when you’re hit with an overdraft fee, but Banks says they’re likely to get worse, going as high as $40 or $45, depending on your bank. That’s up from an average of $27.50 last year, according to Moebs Services, and higher than what credit unions generally charge.

If you’re a bank customer, consider asking for a link to your savings or other eligible accounts to protect against overdraft fees. But beware: if you lack funds in those back-up accounts, you’re still likely to be hit with an overdraft fee.

Also, ask if there are any fees associated with this backup “overdraft protection” policy. Most institutions may charge a fee of some type, typically $5 to $15, but significantly less than facing the overdraft fee outright, according to Matjanec.

Monthly minimums
Monthly fees on some checking accounts can run about $14 a month or almost $170 a year, according to, but new requirements are on the horizon.

“We’ve already seen fees kick in in December that might continue into this year — stealth fees like increasing the monthly minimum balance requirements to avoid maintenance fees,” Matjanec said.
Citibank’s EZ checking, no longer available to new customers, requires a balance of $6,000 to avoid the $15 monthly fee, rising from a minimum of $1,500 to avoid $7.50.

It’s part of an effort to encourage you to share more of your “wallet” with banks. Consider talking to a bank rep to inform them of any multiple accounts you have. You may be able to both avoid fees and increase the interest you earn on accounts.

For example, consider linking your checking and savings accounts if they are with the same bank to increase your monthly minimum balance overall and avoid additional fees. Another promising alternative is to do a direct deposit of your paycheck.

Wiring money
Looking to send money the same day? You should watch out for new fees here, too, especially if you’re a frequent user. Some banks are already starting to increase wire transfer fees or even charge for incoming wire transfers that previously were free. TD Bank, for example, is now charging $15 for an incoming wire, up from zero.

Card replacement
Lost a card? Too bad there’s not a GPS tracker for your cards! The fees to replace them are going up and we’re likely to see more.
Bank of America, for instance, now charges $5, up from $2 previously. If you need your card within 24 hours, it’ll run $20 (in part to pay for the overnight delivery).

Other fees
In an effort to reduce costs related to hired help and to mailing paper statements, banks will also provide more incentives to do it yourself, online. PNC and BBVA Compass are now charging $3 and $5, respectively, to have funds transferred with the help of a phone rep, although you can do it free online.

And those paper statements? Yes, they’re a real cost and banks may start charging you for them, too, or reducing other fees for going electronic.
TD Bank, for example, will reduce your monthly maintenance fees by $1 if you choose electronic statements over paper. You may also see monthly statement fees with some banks.

Be loyal, or else
One final prediction: In addition to more a la carte fees, much like we’re seeing in the airline industry, we’re likely to see new incentives to keep you from switching banks.

Remember the two-year commitment you’re required to make with your cell-phone company or face a hefty fee for early closure? Banks like USA Bank and PNC now charge $25 for closing your account within 180 days. Chase tested the concept but opted not to roll it out, Matjanec said.

I should point out, conversely, that it sometimes helps to stay with a bank for a long period of time if they provide decent service. If you’ve been a customer for, say, the last 28 years, you’re liable to be treated differently. If you make a mistake and get hit with a $45 overdraft fee, I bet you can talk someone into waiving the fee — just like some of the credit-card companies do for their loyal customers. But don’t do it too often.

Consumers would be helped if they could have a clearer, simpler view of fees. Like credit-card bills, especially before the 2009 CARD Act, it can be hard to figure out what you’re really paying. Banks are getting better at this, but it can help to ask questions or ask for a fee schedule (or look for one online).

If you have the time, sit down with your bank rep to review fees and develop strategies to reduce them using products the bank offers. Do a little homework, gathering facts from the bank’s website, before you have a chat.
You’ll probably still pay more fees than you did a few years ago, but you’ll wind up better off than if you ignored the changes completely.

New bank fees to watch for in 2012 - Yahoo! Finance

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