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Study: ATM fees rise across U.S., fewer free checking accounts

Recent studies conducted by Bankrate.com and MoneyRates.com reveal that checking and ATM fees are rising across the country and fewer community banks are offering free checking accounts.

MoneyRates.com’s semi-annual survey found that average minimum checking balances required to avoid monthly fees rose by $856, while the average overdraft fee jumped by 60 cents. Monthly checking account fees also rose by 80 cents.

“This is the most comprehensive rising fee trend we’ve seen in one of our checking account surveys,” Richard Barrington, a senior financial analyst at MoneyRates.com, said, according to Chicago Tribune.

Credit unions are provided relief in the form of free checking accounts, but another study by Bankrate.com revealed that only 72 percent of America’s largest credit unions offer free checking with no minimum balance required, a decrease from 76 percent in 2011, Chicago Tribune reports.

Only 45 percent of banks, however, offer free checking with no minimum balance required. Additionally, MoneyRates.com found that the percentage of checking accounts that have no associated monthly service fee fell by 3.5 percent.

“Fee and balance requirements at banks have a long-standing tradition of increasing year-in and year-out, but the trend has certainly kicked into overdrive in the past two years following regulatory changes” that reduced debit and credit card revenue, Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at BankRate.com, said, according to Chicago Tribune.

Almost all of the credit unions surveyed charge non-member fees for using their ATMs. The average credit union ATM fee decreased by two cents from 2011.

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