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

How to avoid big bank fees, transfer funds

January 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Thousands of people recently joined credit unions after the uproar Bank of America created with its new debit-card fee. The public outcry prompted Bank of America to reverse its decision, but other bank fees are on the rise. Here's advice on how to fight the escalating cost of banking.

It's time to tell the banks we've only just begun to fight back. That's because banks are planning more fees you need to be aware of. With the help of Consumer Reports, we'll show you what to do.

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

"The majority of banks now charge a fee for non-interest checking accounts," said Consumer Reports Editor-in-Chief Kim Kleman. "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 online-banking customers $8.95 per month to use a teller. PNC Bank and U.S. Bank charge $25 to close an account open for less than six months.

"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," said Kleman.

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

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

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.