Checking accounts are more expensive than they've ever been for American consumers, Bankrate.com data shows.
The site, which provides information on mortgages, credit cards and other consumer financial products, reports October 25 that ATM and overdraft fees are at record highs. Using an out-of-network ATM costs bank customers $2.33 this year – 5 percent more than in 2009. The cost of an overdraft, meanwhile, rose 3 percent to $30.47.
And, Bankrate found, fewer banks offer a no-fee checking option to their customers. A year ago, 76 percent of financial institutions had no-fee checking; now, just 65 percent do.
There's not much consumers can do about higher fees, Bankrate notes. But, company financial analyst Greg McBride says, being careful when withdrawing money or writing checks can lead to big savings.
"A consumer who goes to an out-of-network ATM weekly can save $260 per year by using their bank's ATM instead," McBride points out.
Another smart strategy for withdrawing cash is to use a debit card when making a retail purchase and selecting the "cash back" option at the register. Most of the time, getting cash back at a store doesn't carry a fee.