Consumer Reports: Learn to beat bank fees - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Consumer Reports: Learn to beat bank fees

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The New Year means new bank fees, but Action News 5 Chief Investigative Consumer Reporter Andy Wise says there are ways you can fight back. The New Year means new bank fees, but Action News 5 Chief Investigative Consumer Reporter Andy Wise says there are ways you can fight back.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) – A fee for this and a fee for that, banks are burying us in so many fees, a lot of you are fleeing for the credit unions.

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

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

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 Kim Kleman, of Consumer Reports. "Two years ago, most of those accounts were free. Overdraft charges and ATM fees are also at record highs."

And banks continue to pile on even more fees. For example, Bank of America now charges online customers $8.95 a month to use a teller. PNC and U.S. Bank charge $25 to close an account that was open less than 6 months.

"You can fight back," said Kleman. "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 percent lower on average than at big banks.

"Credit unions used to just serve small groups, but that's changed," Kleman said. "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.

Kirk's happy she chose a credit union.

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

It's also worth it to find lower fees at community banks and online banks. FindABetterBank.com is an excellent resource for shopping those types of banks, as well as for comparing the fees of the big boys.

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