What do certified checks, wire transfers, and banking through tellers have in common? They all require a fee.
Consumers are no strangers to dealing with bank fees. This year there may be as many as 49 different fees.
Banks say they have to make money with fees because of regulatory restrictions. It costs banks $300 a year to keep a deposit account open, but they only earn $115 from each costumer, according to Alex Matjanec of mybanktracker.com.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
But what about a fee from a bank you don’t have an account with? Recently a new fee was introduced-- it charges people as much as $10 to cash a paycheck even if they don’t have an account with that bank.
In the Delaware Valley there are more than 166,000 families that go without bank accounts because they can’t afford them. Instead, many of those families are using pre-paid debit cards as an alternative.
Pre-paid debit cards work like a gift card. The money you add to the card lives there until you spend it.
The trend is becoming very popular. Estimates show that $118.5 billion will put on prepaid cards in 2012. That’s an increase of 650% from 2009.
However, the pre-paid debit cards are not without fees. Some may have as many as 20 different fees attached, with the potential to cost consumers more than a traditional bank account.
It’s important to remember that there are free checking accounts. Alan Butkovitz, Philadelphia’s City Controller thinks that the best move is to set up your own account.
If you do find that you are feeling overwhelmed by fees, there are ways to fight back.
"Savvy consumers don't stand for higher fees when they know better alternatives exist in the marketplace," says Greg McBride from bankrate.com.