Until Banks Settle on Single Way to Disclose Fees, It's Hard to Compare Checking Accounts

August 19, 2014
A new WalletHub study concludes that banks have improved their online disclosure of checking account fees but still have a long way to go in terms of transparency. A total of 25 banks were analyzed; and the results indicate that there are still some institutions, led by M&T Bank and USAA Federal Savings, that provide little to no fee schedule information to consumers online.

While most -- including Capital One, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America -- do provide adequate disclosures on their web pages, the absence of a standard for disclosure forms, format, and content makes it challenging for consumers to compare providers. There are an estimated 30 fees tied to the typical checking account -- for everything from depositing a check to speaking to a teller -- but some banks had as many as 50 fees. "The sheer number of different fees associated with checking accounts prevents effective product comparison and decreases the likelihood that consumers will find the best checking accounts for their needs," according to the report.

WalletHub advises consumers to assess what they actually need from a checking account, cast a wide net when they start their search for a provider, read fee schedules carefully and thoroughly, and supplement the selected checking account with a savings account or credit card offer if necessary.

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