WASHINGTON ? According to data released earlier this week by Bankrate.com, banks are raising their fees to record highs, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Banks raised the average minimum balance for free checking accounts this year to $723, while checking fees as a whole reached record highs.
The average monthly fee for a checking account that does not pay interest reached a record high $5.48, up 25% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the average monthly fee for an interest-bearing checking account reached $14.75, a 4% increase from 2011 and another record high.
Thirty-nine percent of non-interest bearing checking accounts were free from fees or minimum balance requirements, down from 45% last year and the peak of 76% in 2009.
?Checking accounts that are free on a standalone basis continue to diminish," said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com?s senior financial analyst. "But a free checking account is still within reach of the majority of Americans, whether by getting the fee waived through direct deposit or moving to a bank or credit union that still offers free checking."
The Bankrate.com survey also revealed rising ATM fees, with the average fee charged by a bank to a non-customer reaching $2.50, up 4% this year. It was the eighth consecutive year that average ATM surcharges increased.
At least one bank tried last year to add new monthly fees for debit cards, but stiff consumer resistance prompted it to change course. According to Bankrate?s survey, less than 1% of banks charged a debit card fee this past year.