Fight against bank fees

FRESNO, Calif.

The majority of banks now charge a fee for non-interest checking accounts. Two years ago, most of those accounts were free. Overdraft charges and ATM fees are also at record highs.

And banks are adding other fees. For example, Bank of America now charges e-bank customers $8.95 a month to use a teller. PNC & US Bank charge $25 to close an account open less than six months.

Consumer Reports says that you can fight back. If you're hit with a fee, ask your bank to waive it. If that doesn't work, threaten to move your account.

If you decide to make a move, Consumer Reports says consider a big credit union. Fees for basic checking at major credit unions are 42 percent lower on average than at big banks. They used to just serve small groups, but that's changed. Now it's pretty easy to find one you can join.

Before changing banks, check to see if your bank charges a closing fee. Make sure all outstanding checks are paid and switch over automatic deposits and bill payments.

Consumer Reports says you can also find lower fees at community banks and online banks. In order to get a handle on a bank's fees and rates, check out its website.

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