Bank fees have reached record highs this year, according to a fall survey from Bankrate.
Banks charged noncustomers an average $2.60 to withdraw cash at their automated teller machines in Bankrate's survey of 10 banks and thrifts in each of the 25 largest U.S. markets. That's a 4% increase from 2012. Average ATM fees have climbed by almost a third in the years since 2008, according to Bankrate.
Higher ATM charges are part of the fallout from the Federal Reserve's push to maintain historically low interest rates, according to Jim Johannes, director of the Puelicher Center for Banking Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"If you're making less money on the interest side of the bank and you need to increase cash flows to satisfy investors, the only real way you can do that is to make it up in fee income," Johannes said in Bankrate's report on the survey results.
Overdraft and monthly maintenance fees also climbed to new heights this year. Customers who overdrew their accounts paid an average fee of $32.20 up 3% from a year ago. Average monthly maintenance fees ticked up 1% to $5.54.
While these charges are on the rise, customers now have an easier time dodging overdraft fees thanks to low-balance alerts and other technological advances, according to research analyst Matthew Kelley.
"The technologies and the real-time updates that consumers now have again, with some of these mobile technologies is resulting in a lot less overdraft income," Kelley said in the Bankrate report.
The survey also suggests that free checking accounts may survive the great post-recession dive. In 2009, 76% of checking accounts were free. By 2012, just 39% were gratis. Now the rate of decline seems to be stabilizing: 38% of checking accounts were free this year.