Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year or so, you have been hearing about the bank crises and how almost every bank needs cash (and quickly).  So I guess it is not surprising, that bank fees are rising and if you don’t watch out you may get hit with an avoidable fee.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Personal Finance Section, here are some of the increased fees:

Last week, Citigroup Inc.’s Citibank started charging some customers a new $10 “overdraft protection transfer fee” to transfer money from a savings account or line of credit to cover a checking-account shortfall.

Over the past year, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.’s Chase, Bank of America Corp., and Wells Fargo & Co. have boosted the fees they charge noncustomers who use their automated teller machines to as much as $3 per transaction.

In July, for example, Comerica Inc.’s Comerica Bank raised fees in Michigan for customers who want to stop payments or get a cashier’s check. Last year,

PNC Financial Services Group Inc.’s PNC Bank introduced a processing charge of $3 for customers who use their debit card to get a cash advance at a teller window.

Consumers are likely to see the most pain from bounced-check and overdraft fees. “By the end of 2009, you will start to see fairly substantial increases in overdraft fees” for the big banks, potentially to as high as $40 per occurrence from a current range of $32 to $35, says Mike Moebs, chief executive of Moebs $ervices Inc., an economic research firm in Chicago.

Already, Bank of America, Citibank and Washington Mutual Inc. have raised their overdraft fees this year, while Wells Fargo raised its insufficient-funds fee in certain markets in July. Many banks are also adopting tiered-rate structures that assess a lower penalty for first-time occurrences but quickly ramp up the costs for repeat offenders.

I know this seems counterintuitive, but I actually think this is a good move for banks.  Think about it, if you are responsible and not lazy, you won’t incur any extra charges or fees, but your bank theoretically will become healthier.

Three easy ways to avoid rising bank fees:

  1. Know your account.  Whenever a friend or family member asks for introductory help the first thing I do is check their main checking and savings account.  NO ONE should ever get hit with minimum fee charges anymore – there is just too much competition between banks when you consider all online and alternative (i.e. Fidelity Checking) accounts. 
  2. Think about ATM Trips – I wish someone told me to stop being an idiot in college as I got banged out for $2 – $4 bucks every time I visited an atm at college/college bar.  Alternatively, use an account that will reimburse your ATM fees.  ING Electric Orange Checking provides over 37,000 ATMs worldwide through the all point network.  I went to the All point Website and found out that there are “2,024 Allpoint ATMs within 50 miles, and 3,302 within 100 miles.”  Want more of a reason? ING offers a $25 bonus for depositing $250 into a savings account.  Either Contact me for a referral HERE or use the links on the right hand side.
  3. Watch your Checking – Overdrawing on your account SUCKS most have done it but doesn’t make it hurt less when you see those fees (which I guess are about to go up)!

Have you seen your fees go up? What bank? What Fees?