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New bank fees top list of consumer complaints

April 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
When it comes to banking, what's your number one gripe? The Federal Trade Commission reports bank fees are a top consumer complaint. And now there are brand new fees to be on the lookout for beyond the typical charges.

A flat $25-per-month fee so your bank won't charge you each time you use an out-of-network ATM machine: That's just one new fee popping up at some financial institutions. Another: a $5 fee to replace a missing debit card; $20 if you want it rushed. Here's one more: a charge to use a human teller.

Consumers say the growing number of bank fees is a major complaint.

"There's all different kinds of little fees and every bank is a little bit different," said Claes Bell, a Bankrate.com analyst and writer. "Some of these fees are being put forward by big national banks, some of them are small banks and credit unions."

Some of the new fees we found banks charging: for a dollar a month, you can go straight to the front of the phone line, skipping other callers on hold.

And it could cost you another dollar if you want one of those ATM mini-statement printouts.

Shocked? Well, perhaps you shouldn't be. Banks say they disclose all their fees. They're in those documents you get when you open an account, and in those disclosures that show up in the mail.

But beware: If whatever the bank mails you regarding your checking account gets sent back, you could pay a $6 fee for that too.

"Banks are really struggling to find ways to make money off their checking deposits so they're experimenting with new things," said Bell.

Banks lost billions of dollars when Congress capped the amount they could charge businesses for "debit card swipe fees." The American Bankers Association says they still need to cover costs for things like each checking account.

Experts say if you don't like the fees at your bank, shop around and find a new place to put your money. But caution here: Some banks hit you with a $25 fee if you close an account within six months of opening it.

The American Bankers Association says there are plenty of free checking accounts out there, especially through various credit unions.

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