• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Tips to avoid sneaky escalating bank fees

November 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Earlier this week Bank of America and other large banks backed down from charging its customers to use their debit card, but that hasn't stopped them from looking for other ways to make money.

But consumers are fighting back with a national Bank Transfer Day happening on Saturday.

Bill Nugent says when reviewing his bank statement, he discovered he was being charged a $25 fee for a line of credit he says he never even applied for.

"You really should look at your bank statements," said Nugent. "Because there may be fees you're being charged for that you're not even aware of."

Nugent ended up consolidating several accounts to avoid the $25 fee. Consumer Reports Money Adviser says being proactive is key in the war against escalating bank fees.

Banks have lost billions of dollars as a result of bad loans, the weak economy, and recent regulatory changes, and they're looking to recoup some of that money.

"The latest blow to banks are new rules that virtually cut in half the fee that large banks can charge retailers when people pay with their debit cards," said Greg Daugherty from Consumer Reports.

Even before the debit card rule went into effect certain banks, including USAA Bank, Chase, and U.S. Bank, announced they will stop offering debit card rewards for most customers.

And what if you lose your debit card? Bank of America is now charging some customers $5 to replace it.

But Consumer Reports Money Adviser says there are ways you can avoid being nickel-and-dimed.

First, even if it looks like junk mail, read all bank correspondence- including the fine print- to keep on top of new fees. And if you're a longtime customer or have large deposits- negotiate. You might be able to get a better deal or have certain fees waived.

"If there's no way around higher fees, consider moving your account," said Daugherty. "Good places to consider are local banks, credit unions, and online banks."

Consumer Reports says one online bank to consider is Ally Bank. It offers no-fee, interest-bearing checking accounts.

If you do end up moving your account, be sure to check if your bank charges to close your account. Some banks now charge a closing fee if the account has recently been opened.

Load Comments