Consumer Alert: Is it time for you to switch banks?

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This consumer alert takes you to the bank. Are you giving away your hard-earned money? A Bankrate study finds one in four Americans are doing just that.

It’s amazing how much we pay in fees: annoying, unnecessary fees. That Bankrate study finds that 27% of us are paying routine monthly bank fees. That’s essentially flushing your hard-earned cash down the toilet.

Let’s focus on checking account fees. One in four Americans is paying maintenance fees and service fees on their checking accounts. Half of those who are paying fees said those fees keep them from saving. And young folks are more likely to be burdened by big bank fees. Forty-six percent of Gen-z’ers, folks 18 to 26, and 42% of millennials, folks 27 to 42, pay unnecessary fees.

Consider this: Almost half of non-interest checking accounts are completely free. And 99% become free if you meet certain requirements like having your paycheck automatically deposited. So experts with Bankrate say it pays to shop around.

“It really all comes down to making sure you’re working with the bank that’s best for your specific financial situation,” said Sarah Foster, a Bankrate analyst. I like to tell people that banks are essentially a commodity. You can basically get the same service anywhere you go. So a lot of times if you pick the right one, it can come with specific advantages.”

Those advantages include no out-of-network ATM fees or no overdraft or insufficient funds fees. As more online banks with less overhead claim more of the market, more banks are ditching some fees. Click here for Bankrate’s list of best checking accounts in January of 2023.

People give all kinds of reasons for staying with the same bank, the most common of which is that switching banks is just too much trouble. The average checking account holder has been with the same bank for 17 years. But it really does pay to shop around.