More than two dozen major banks have revised their overdraft policies in the past year. Although these changes have reduced the average cost of these types of fees, 96% of checking accounts still charge these fees.
According Bankrate.com Annual Survey of Current Account and ATM Fees released on Wednesday. The most common price for overdraft fees remains at around $35, the same as it has been for the past 13 years.
Average NSF Fee, similar to an overdraft fee and typically assessed when customers overdraw their checking account with a check or recurring charges like rent or bill payment, is down from 21% year over year. These fees have reached an average cost of $26.58 this year, the lowest level since 2004.
This comes as banks like Citi and Capital One have cut overdraft fees entirely and many others, such as Bank of America, BMO Harris, US Bank and Wells Fargo, have eliminated NSF fees this year. So far, about 13% of accounts analyzed by Bankrate have eliminated NSF fees and 4% have eliminated overdraft fees.
The overdraft reforms made by some banks represent real money for consumers; to the tune of approximately 4 billion dollars per year, according to a study by Pew Charitable Trusts.
While some consumers save more as the big banks get rid of these fees, these fees are still widely collected. In its survey of 245 financial institutions offering checking accounts to consumers, Bankrate found that 96% of checking accounts charge overdraft fees and 87% assess NSF fees. Bankrate has not analyzed current account fees at credit unions.
One of the reasons for the slow pace of change in the industry: Overdraft and NSF fees are a major revenue driver for financial institutions. In 2021, banks, credit unions, community banks, and fintechs earned an estimated $33.4 billion on these types of fees, according to economic research firm Moebs Services.
Industry experts also point out that dramatically restricting overdraft fees could create more challenges than it solves for consumers. Overdraft protection provides bank customers with a viable source of short-term cashand without it, some consumers may be forced to use risky alternatives like payday loans more often.
“Overdraft remains one of the few short-term liquidity products available to consumers within a well-regulated and well-supervised banking system,” said Lindsey Johnson, president and CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association, wrote in a July editorial. “A large majority of regular overdraft users knowingly use the product and appreciate the emergency safety net it provides when needed, whether it’s paying rent or just putting food on the table.
And while overdraft fees and NSF fees may have come down over the past year, Americans continue to ring their bells elsewhere. Bankrate found that ATM fees were on the rise. The average combined fee for out-of-network ATMs (including ATM surcharges and expenses charged by banks to their own customers) rose 1.5% from last year to $4.66, the rate the highest since 2019.
Consumer advocates and progressive Democrats argue that bank fees are typically imposed on Americans who can least afford them. And many, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.) and Senators Cory Booker (DN.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), want to at least restrict overdraft fees through federal legislation. , although their bills have yet to hit the ground for debate or passage through Congress.
“I would love to see more banks take the steps of Capital One and Ally and Citibank and do it voluntarily. But one of the things about doing something voluntarily, they might as well say we’re not going to do it. “Maloney said at a press conference in July. “I think it’s very important to have the reality of a law behind this.
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