Study: Checking Fees Average Almost $1,000 Over a Decade, With 18% of Consumers Bearing the Brunt
by Spencer Tierney
For Joelle Brown, writing three rent checks to her landlord before a long trip turned out to be a bad idea. She expected one check to get deposited each month, but her landlord cashed them all at once.
When bank fees hit, that’s a signal that something’s gone sour.
Key findings at a glance
- Checking accounts have an average annual cost of $97.80 in fees, based on data from the CFPB. We considered three types of fees that consumers typically are charged: overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees, ATM and account usage fees, and monthly maintenance fees.
- In 10 years, the average cost is $978, and in 20 years it’s $1,956.
- The most consumer-friendly checking accounts, on the other hand, cost $31.05 a year on average, and that’s only if you incur the U.S. average of two overdrafts per year. Otherwise, these accounts are free.
- Choosing one of the most consumer-friendly checking accounts, which NerdWallet determined based on analysis, can save you an average of $667.50 over 10 years compared with an average checking account.
Total costs in the U.S.
- For the more than 109 million U.S. households that have checking accounts, the total average annual cost of the checking accounts is $10.7 billion. This is just from the three types of fees: overdraft-related, ATM and account use, and monthly maintenance.
- If those households switched to one of the most consumer-friendly checking accounts, they’d save $7.3 billion altogether in just one year.
If you’re regularly hit with bank fees, taking the time to find the right bank can easily save you hundreds of dollars over a few years.