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Don't pay the bank to use your money

By Christine Romans, CNN
The typical consumer pays $620 year in unnecessary fees, financial expert says.
The typical consumer pays $620 year in unnecessary fees, financial expert says.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fewer banks offer free checking, according to new analysis by Bankrate.com
  • Costs associated with checking accounts are rising; ATM fees are up 5 percent
  • To save -- avoid overdrafts, shop for best rates, only use in-network ATMs
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Editor's note: Christine Romans is anchor of CNN's "Your $$$$$" and author of the new book "Smart Is the New Rich."

(CNN) -- It should come as no surprise that even after consumer-friendly bank reform it costs more than ever to use your own money.

A veritable credit card fee frenzy over the past decade meant many banks could easily offer free checking and other perks, subsidized by the big fees generated elsewhere. (A checking account costs the typical bank $100 to $200 to set up and maintain.)

But now that these fees have been tamed by new rules, fees are rising elsewhere.

New analysis by Bankrate.com shows fewer banks offer free checking and the costs associated with your bank account are rising. You can be charged by the bank to hold your money for you, if you don't have a minimum balance. You can be charged to take your own money out of an ATM. And you will still pay if you bounce a check or overdraw your account with a debit card.

Average ATM fees are up 5 percent, to an all-time high of $2.33, and the average out-of-network charge to use an ATM for another bank is $1.41.

Video: How to save $600 on annual bank fees

Overdraft fees rose another 3 percent to $30.47 and the cost to maintain a checking account rose on average to $13.04 a month -- that's the cost for not keeping the minimum in an interest bearing account.

The typical consumer pays $620 year in unnecessary and avoidable fees, Bankrate's senior financial analyst Greg McBride figures.

Here's how to avoid paying the bank for the use of YOUR money:

Never use an out of network ATM machine

Walk or drive the extra distance. It is literally the easiest money you can save in your budget.

Avoid overdrafts

Avoiding one overdraft a month saves you $360 a year. There are new rules to protect you from the most egregious overdraft fees, but make no mistake, you can't spend money you don't have in the account. Do not opt in for overdraft protection for your debit card.

Unfortunately, the consumers getting dinged by overdraft fees tend to be what I call "fee-quent fliers." Bank of America reported last week that 10 percent of its customers generate 70 percent of its overdraft fees. Strive to not be a fee-quent flier.

Shop around for bank accounts

If you have a low balance and your bank will charge you a few dollars for dipping below a minimum level, check out community banks and credit unions.

Bottom line, don't pay to use your own money.