Some of the new regulations on banks have been eating into their profits which means they're finding new ways to make money: by charging additional fees. NBC's Lisa Myers reports.
By Talesha Reynolds
While some banks are moving toward simpler, more consumer-friendly disclosures, others continue to hit customers with “hidden fees and deceptive practices,” according to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trust analyzing the practices of the country's largest banks and credit unions.
The study said Americans paid an estimated $29.5 billion in bank fees in 2011.
Richard Hunt, President of the Consumer Bankers Association, defends banks' overdraft fee practices, and explains why banks have to charge them.
Consumer groups offer these tips to keep more of your money in your account:
- Read all disclosure documents thoroughly.
- Monitor your bank statements closely.
- Sign up for email or text alerts so you know when your account balance is running low.
- Ask questions of the bank about the types of fees they charge and the terms and conditions of the account.
- Consider linking your checking account to a savings account to cover potential overdrafts.
- Shop around. Compare banks and find one that charges the lowest or fewest fees.
- Provide yourself a cushion. This is easier said than done, but it can save a lot of heartache down the road.
- Know the difference between opting out and opting in. If you opt out of overdraft protection, you won't be able to use your debit card if you don't have enough money in your account. You may be embarrassed, but you won’t pay a fee.
Susan Weinstock of Pew Charitable Trusts talks about the findings of their recent study, which shows banks' overdraft fees on checking and debit accounts are still "excessive."