A newly released Bankrate study about checking account fees found that the associated fees have reached an all-time high. ATM surcharges increased 11 percent from just last year, going from $1.78 to $1.97, fees for bounced checks rose 2.5 percent to $28.95, and monthly service fees on interest bearing accounts increased from $11.72 to $11.97. According to Greg McBride from Bankrate.com, "Fees have been going up for years. Some of those fees have outpaced the rate of inflation."
The fees may keep going up, but we can sit on the sidelines unaffected by the hikes if we're smart. If your bank doesn't absorb ATM surcharges, stick to your own bank's ATM by planning ahead, or just get cash back at the store. Ideally your checkbook is balanced so that you don't bounce checks, but getting overdraft protection connected to a savings account can prevent expensive bounced check fees. Most interest bearing checking accounts pay very minimal interest anyway, so you're probably better off forgoing the interest to avoid maintenance fees that usually come with these accounts.