Think twice before using that ATM: Bank fees are at a record high!


It's a bad time to be a bank. With jobs failing, homeowners struggling, and inflation putting even basic necessities out of the reach of many consumers, some banks are scrambling just to stay afloat. The government is helping, but even with Treasury Secretary Paulson's massive influx of money, America's financial institutions are having to find ways to ensure a steady income when the economy is rising and falling like a rowboat in the North Atlantic.

One major revenue stream that they've been tapping is fees. According to USA Today, most bank fees hit all-time highs in 2008; for example, consumers using an out-of-network ATM can now expect to pay an average surcharge of $3.43, 13% more than a year ago. By comparison, bounced check fees hit $28.95, 2.5% more than last year, and minimum balance requirements for free or online checking have also gone up considerably.

Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to reduce the subsidy that you, personally, pay to the bank: