A lot of consumer advocates predicted that banks would soon be up to their old tricks again to charge you for basic services. A year after public outrage forced banks to drop those poorly-thought-out debit card fees, the banks have been busy replacing them.
"There's a myriad of different fees," said Susan Weinstock with the Pew Charitable Trust. "Sometimes there's an account closing fee if you close the account within 6 months of opening it. Maybe there's a minimum fee to open the account."
"It's frustrating that banks are charging these fees. It's frustrating for the consumer who feels like they don't have a lot of money already," said Today consumer finance writer Allison Linn.
Pew Charitable Trusts performed a state-by-state analysis of checking accounts at the nation's largest banks and found fees hidden deep inside the average 69-page document of terms and conditions that bank customers rarely read.
"There's just a lot of little things that the banks are doing to kind of sneak in extra revenue for themselves," said Linn.
Pew's researchers say nine out of ten of us have a checking account for which another study estimates we pay on average of $259 in fees. That's why Pew's Susan Weinstock says the group wants banks to at least simplify those 69-pages with a single-page summary that, "has the key fees and terms of condition that consumers really need to know about."
The banks say the documents are lengthy because the law says they have to be, while Today's Allison Linn says we have to face facts. "We have to be realistic about the fact that banks are going to keep charging fees," said Linn. "You're probably going to have to pay one or two."
The question is whether you can afford 4 or 5 fees.