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Survey: Most bank customers avoid all fees

Even in the face of rising bank fees resulting from massive new regulatory pressure on banks, most bank customers – 71 percent – are finding ways to avoid paying any fees, a recent survey by the American Bankers Association shows. And, 82 percent of consumers spend $3 or less in monthly bank fees for services such as checking account maintenance and ATM access.

"It's impressive that so many customers avoid paying any bank fees," said Nessa Feddis, ABA vice president, senior federal counsel and retail banking expert. "It shows that consumers are savvy and able to navigate the new banking landscape with skill. Often, avoiding bank fees can be as simple as maintaining a minimum balance or accepting a paycheck by direct deposit," Feddis added.

The annual survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults was conducted for ABA by Ipsos Public Affairs, an independent market research firm, August 12-14, 2011. This was the first time the survey was conducted online. Ipsos conducted ABA's previous surveys by telephone.

When asked how much they estimate they spend on fees for banking services each month such as checking account maintenance and ATM access, consumers provided the following responses:

  • 71 percent said they pay nothing;
  • 11 percent said $3 or less;
  • 6 percent said $4 to $6;
  • 4 percent said $7 to $9; and
  • 7 percent said they pay $10 or more.

ABA has conducted the survey annually since 1998.

"Consumers should know that bank accounts cost little or nothing for most people," Feddis said. "And people who keep their money in a bank can feel comfortable knowing that it's insured, can't get stolen, lost, or destroyed, and is available to make payments or get cash 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through multiple convenient channels," she added.

While some consumer groups focus on avoidable fees at the highest end of the spectrum, the survey clearly shows that the vast majority of bank customers manages their accounts well and keeps service charges low.

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