Finding Info On Bank Fees May Take Digging

Publication: USA Today

Author: Molly Tilghman and Sandra Block


10/21/2011 - The hullabaloo about Bank of America's decision to charge customers a monthly debit card fee has prompted many consumers to take a hard look at the cost of their bank accounts.

Here's the problem: Almost all bank websites will prominently disclose the fees they don't charge. Identifying the fees they do charge is much more difficult.

USA TODAY analyzed the cost of opening a basic checking account at the 10 largest banks and credit unions. In most cases, information about monthly maintenance fees, requirements to waive these fees and the minimum needed to open an account are readily available on the institutions' websites. Other fees, such as the cost of taking a withdrawal from an out-of-network ATM or closing an account weren't prominently disclosed.

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Determined customers can search for information about fees in banks' official disclosure documents, but they'll need a lot of time and a couple of cups of coffee, too. An analysis of checking accounts for the 10 largest banks by the Pew Health Group found that the median length of their disclosure statements was 111 pages. None of the banks provided key information about fees on a single page, the study found.

"As a result," the study said, "consumers must navigate a confusing maze of disclosure documents in their efforts to locate all of the important account information."

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Read the full article, Finding Info on Bank Fees May Take Digging, on USA Today's Web site.

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