How to Get a Better Deal at Your Bank

Focus on the features important to you, then check our list of low-fee and no-fee accounts.

Pesky bank fees aren’t just creeping up -- they’re attacking from all sides. Banks impose 49 different fees, on average, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Getting paper statements in the mail will cost you $1 to $2 a month; seeing a teller could result in a $9 fee; and maintaining a checking account without meeting deposit, balance or usage requirements could cost as much as $30 per month. Earning interest on a checking account often requires a hefty minimum balance, and yields on certificates of deposit and money market deposit accounts are minuscule.

Ironically, a big reason for the fee explosion is federal legislation designed to protect consumers from excessive fees and misleading practices. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act and a rule that requires customers to opt in to overdraft services have reduced revenue, and banks now lose an average of $174 per year on each checking account, says Mike Moebs, of Moebs Serv­ices, an economic-research firm. And banks’ coffers will also be hit by a new regulation that prevents banks with assets of $10 billion or more from charging merchants more than 21 cents each time a customer swipes a debit card (some banks will also get an allowance for fraud protection and loss).

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Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.