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Fee Income Will Matter More to Banks

Just when consumers thought it was safe to use a foreign ATM, banks decide to raise their ATM fees, according to research by Bankrate.com, the online aggregator of bank rates.

Just when consumers thought it was safe to use a foreign ATM, banks decide to raise their ATM fees, according to research by Bankrate.com, the online aggregator of bank rates.The study found that ATM fees have risen 11 percent this year to an average of $1.97, versus $1.78 last year. And customers should expect to be hit from both sides, says the company. Banks that charge their own customers for using foreign ATMs are also increasing these fees-$1.46 this year compared with $1.25 in 2007. According to Bankrate, 99.2 percent of ATMs have a surcharge.

And ATMs aren't the only place consumers are being hit. Bankrate also examined checking accounts and discovered that NSF fees have risen yet again. The company says that only twice in 10 years have nonsufficient funds fees not increased. According to the findings, people who bounce a check will pay 2.5 percent more than last year for their negligence, or an average of $28.95.

Bankrate.com surveyed one interest checking account and one noninterest checking account at each of the largest banks and thrifts in 25 large markets to find the latest trends on checking account and ATM fees. There were 247 interest accounts and 226 noninterest accounts surveyed at 249 banks and thrifts in the top 25 metropolitan areas.

This is definitely a sign of the times as banks look to find some means of generating revenue. Falling back on fee-generating services like ATM surcharges and NSF fees are probably the most obvious places for banks to start looking to bring in more cash, so I suppose no one should be surprised by these findings.

On the plus side, with all these bank mergers we're seeing, unless you bank with a very small or regional institution, the chance of finding an ATM from your particular bank probably will increase. And there's always that nifty feature of your debit card where you can get cash at the point of sale. Just make sure that pack of gum you buy so you can take out $60 from your account doesn't cost more than the ATM surcharge!

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