Banks are expected to collect a total of about $35.2 billion in overdraft fees this year, down 5.1% from 2009 and the lowest amount since 2007, according to Moebs Services.
Still, the median overdraft cost is likely to increase 3.8%, to $27 in 2010, according to the research firm. The median cost also rose 4%, to $26 in 2009.
Economist Michael Moebs said the decrease in total fees is because of "the uncertainty of what will happen with financial reform in Congress" and the Federal Reserve's continuing review of overdraft policies of all types. Meanwhile, the higher median fee reflects increases instituted by big banks at the end of 2008 that have been adopted by regional and smaller banks recently, he said.
About 200 of the 2,000 banks surveyed have dropped overdraft fees on debit and automated teller machine cards because of the cost of changing their systems and retraining employees to implement the new Fed rules, Moebs said.