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Free checking disappearing in Dodd-Frank’s wake

A recent survey on checking by Bankrate revealed that only 39 percent of American banks still offer free checking accounts, a marked decrease from the 76 percent of institutions that offered the service in 2009.

Since the enactment of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, new regulations have cost America’s financial institutions billions of dollars each year. Price controls on interchange fees and restrictions on overdraft fees, along with other regulatory changes, have pushed many financial institutions to recoup the costs and revenue losses through other fees.

“We continue to see a decline in the availability of free checking,” Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, said. “”I don’t expect it to reverse anytime soon.”

The survey also revealed that almost all checking fees have increased, some rising by more than 25 percent. For interest-bearing-checking accounts, the average minimum balance required to avoid monthly fees has doubled in the past two years, and for non-interest-bearing accounts, the average minimum balance to avoid fees rose by 23 percent.

Consumers have also had to pay more to use out-of-network ATMs. The fees associated with using an out-of-network ATM average around $4 per transaction.

Consumers are also contending with increasing overdraft fees, which rose from $30.83 to a record high of $31.26.

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