SPECIAL REPORT

Bank Card Fees That Eat at Your Wallet

By Peter Neumann
By Ryan Elijah
By Maureen Mespell

February 2, 2012 Updated Nov 1, 2013 at 10:35 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, In. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Placing your money in the bank is one of the first piece of advice that many of us receive, but recently, more banks have opted to charge fees for using that money.

It's more important than ever for consumers to do their banking homework.

Increased banks fees, mainly on debit cards, are no accident. In October, the Durbin Amendment went into effect, limiting the fees that banks can charge merchants for each debit card swipe to 24 cents, from 44 cents. It was only 20 cents, but for banks it brings an estimated loss of over $10 billion. Many of the larger banks decided to make up for the lost revenue by charging you to use your debit card, anywhere from $3-5.

"A lot boils down to pay attention and know what is going on", said Mike LeClear, Vice President at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northeast Indiana.

A large consumer revolt led Bank of America to suspend their $5 fee, but there are plenty of fees to navigate at most banks and one of the best places to do that is online.

Bankrate.com is just one site where a consumer can compare fees. As soon as I entered my zip code and account I was looking for, it compared the fees charged by banks and credit unions in the area, both for checking and ATM's.

"here's what the credit union offers, here's what the bank offers and just see what you're looking for to compare rates", said LeClear.

At the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northeast Indiana, they're seeing an increasing number of clients trying to manage their debt and late fees. They say it's vital for consumers to make payments on time. A payment that's over 30 days past due is considered a "slow pay" and will stay on your record for 7 years.

"those slow pays will drop your credit and drop your credit score"

To drive that point home, 35 percent of your all important "FICO score' is based on payment history.
The Durbin Amendment didn't impact credit card fees charged by retailers, so switching to a credit card could be the answer for many consumers, but not everyone is eligible and debt is also a concern.

Experts say not all consumers will benefit by switching to credit cards.... The bottom line, it's very important to do your homework and you should be able to avoid any surprising fees on your statement.

Here's a list of sites a consumer might find helpful:
www.depositaccounts.com
www.bankrate.com
cuna.org (Credit Union National Association)

The Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northeast Indiana is a Non-Profit Community Service, here's a link to their site: www.financialhope.org




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