Fight Back Against Bank Fees

Thousands of people recently joined credit unions after the uproar Bank of America created with its new debit-card fee.

A public outcry prompted Bank of America to reverse its decisions, but other bank fees are on the rise. Consumer Reports has advice on how to fight the escalating cost of banking.

Taylor Kirk says she joined a credit union because she couldn't afford to open an account at a major bank.

Kirk says, "The fees were really outrageous for me, and the amount that I had to put in was too much."

Consumer Reports finds bank fees are showing no signs of letting up.

Kim Kleman of Consumer Reports says, "The majority of banks now charge a fee for non-interest checking accounts. Two years ago, most of those accounts were free. Overdraft charges and ATM fees are also at record highs."

And banks are adding other fees. For example, Bank of America now charges e-bank customers $8.95 a month to use a teller.

PNC and U.S. Bank charge $25 to close an account open less than six months.

Kleman says, "You can fight back. If you're hit with a fee, ask your bank to waive it. If that doesn't work, threaten to move your account."

If you decide to make a move, consider a big credit union. Fees for basic checking at major credit unions are 42% lower on average than at big banks.

Kleman says, "Credit unions used to just serve small groups, but that's changed. Now it's pretty easy to find one you can join."

Before changing banks, check to see if your bank charges a closing fee. Make sure all outstanding checks are paid, and switch over automatic deposits and bill payments.

Taylor Kirk's happy she chose a credit union.

Kirk says, "The locations aren't as plentiful as with a big bank, but honestly, it's worth it."

Consumer Reports says you can also find lower fees at community banks and online banks. In order to get a handle on a bank's fees and rates, check out its website.

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