Fee'd Up With Record-High Banking Fees?

Bank charges have hit all-time highs. Free checking accounts have all but disappeared and ATM charges are up. Will you switch banks?

Has your bank raised fees on checking accounts and ATM transactions?

If so, they're not alone. And apparently customers aren't taking it anymore, either.

A survey by the trade industry group Bankrate.com found that "almost every checking fee we follow went up, with some bank fees rising 25 percent or more."

Free checking accounts are quickly disappearing. Bankrate found that just 39 percent of non-interest checking accounts are free of charge to all customers — down from 45 percent last year and a peak of 76 percent in 2009.

The same group said poll results suggest that 72 percent of Americans would consider switching banks if their financial institution raised its fees. That figure was 64 percent in March 2011.

A fee revolt swept the nation at the end of 2011 when a grassroots campaign — Move Our Money — persuaded many Americans to move their money from big banks to community banks or credit unions. Locally, we saw that campaign make its way here with the Occupy Milwaukee movement. from the once quiet crowd as they began marching down Michigan Avenue. 

One way to explore whether or not it's time to change banks is to use online comparison tools, such as FindABetterBank.com or through BankRate.com's comparison charts.

Fees at Major Banks in Muskego

Bank Min. Balance to Open Min. Balance to Avoid Fees Monthly Fees Insufficient Funds Fee Fee at Other ATMs

Associated Bank

Advantage Checking

$100 $0 $13 $35 $2

Chase Bank

Total Checking

$25 $1,500* $12 $34 $2

Guaranty Bank

Free & Easy Checking

$25 $0 $0

$35  unavailable funds

$37 overdrafts


M&I Bank

Everyday Checking

$100 $1,000 $7 $35 $2

North Shore Bank

Better than Free Checking

$50 $750*
$4.95 $35 $2 PNC Bank Virtual Wallet $25 $0 $10 $25 $0

US Bank

Easy Checking

$25 $1,500 $8.95 $33 $2.50

While many of these local banks have monthly fees, most offer ways to offset those fees, such as direct deposit or minimum balances. 

Have you recognized a rise in ATM and checking fees? Are you doing anything about it, like switching banks? Share your experience in the comments, and any tips for avoiding extra charges.

Matt September 27, 2012 at 04:10 PM
This is why I am now at a Credit Untion, everyone should look at Landmark. They treat me very well there.
Denise Konkol September 27, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I have always wondered how it helps me to be charged $35 or more for being $2 overdrawn. And it always seems that the largest amounts are taken out in a single day to garner the bank a higher likelihood to collect multiple overdraft fees...
Dan September 27, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I agree Matt. I've been with Guardian Credit Union for 10+ years after having a horrible experience with M&I. No hidden fees - no BS. I will never go back to a regular bank again.
Heidi Lindhorst September 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM
My Boston Store credit card just raised the interest rate to 25% and has a new MINIMUM interest charge of $2. Cut the cards!
Gregory Kluck October 04, 2012 at 09:51 PM
This is why I chose Guaranty Bank. Associated was killing me with fees. Also Guaranty has ID Revive and an overdraft protection plan for little money...awesome bank and the Muskego branch has great people from Manager Danielle on down to the tellers.


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