Which fees are your bank hiding?




Posted on April 13, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 13 at 1:40 PM

Getting hit with unexpected fees from your bank is bad enough, but some banks won't even tell you what they're going to charge you for.

Most of the fees your bank charges you have to be disclosed. The "Trust in Savings Act" from 1991 and the "Card Act" from 2009 say so. But a new study from the Public Interest Research Group shows that it can be really hard to find out about these fees.

The group went to banks around the country asking for fee schedules. Here's what they found:

  • Nearly two-thirds did not disclose fees after the first request.
  • A little more than half handed over the information after two or more requests.
  • Almost a quarter of the banks refused to disclose fees at all. Researchers were told to go online, come back tomorrow or that they had to open an account to get the fee information.

Now, to be fair, some banks do post easy-to-find fee information on their websites. The study cites U.S. Bank, Sun Trust and Bank of the West as examples of this.

So, what can you do to find out about fees? Pay attention and keep asking.

And before you toss it, take the time to read what your bank sends you via email or snail mail. The fine print likely contains information about fees and expenses.

With a slew of new regulations going into effect this summer, many financial institutions are sending out information about the changes.

If you're unhappy with your banks fees, consider switching to a credit union. They are not-for-profit organizations and tend to have fewer charges. Also, look for free checking. More than half of the banks in the study still offer it. Having your paycheck directly deposited into your account almost always gets you free checking.

You can also check out these websites: