Leaving Your Bank? Do Your Homework First

by Gerri Willis

We've focused a lot on this show on Bank of America's new $60-a-year debit card fee. But they are certainly not alone in raking up the costs for consumers. And the worst part? Higher bank fees are here to stay.

New rules have curtailed various kinds of traditional fees - such as overdraft and late fees - so banks are being forced to create brand spanking new charges.

In addition to Bank of America, Citigroup will charge $20 a month starting in December to some customers who don't keep a balance of $15,000 dollars or more.

Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase are testing three dollar monthly debit card fees in a handful of states. SunTrust started a $5 monthly debit card fee back in June.

Regions Financial kicked off a $4 fee this month.

These fees have become a hot-bed of anger and frustration among consumers - especially those camped out downtown Manhattan.

And for many - they could be enough to push customers to go through the hassle of switching banks.

A new survey by Research Intelligence Group says about a third of consumers will leave their bank if debit card fees are put in place.

And it's not just lip service - the weekend after Bank of America announced their new fees - the nation's largest credit union saw new account openings skyrocket more than 20% percent.

But as I said - switching banks can be a hassle - especially if you have direct deposit, online bill payments or you do a lot of business directly with your bank.

USA Today outlined some things to consider before making the switch.

For starters - you can save a lot of money if you go to an online bank.

Some of these banks have the lowest checking costs - and some even have high interest rates and will re-imburse you for using another banks ATM. Not ideal for those who use a lot of checks - something to keep in mind there.

Now those ATM fees are a major concern for those thinking of switching to a credit union or a small bank!

So do some research - find out if they have agreements - as many do - with larger ATM networks rr see if they waive such fees.

Also - just because you hear a headline about bank fees - don't automatically run to your local branch and close everything!

Some fees may not apply to you - such as if you use direct deposit - or meet a minimum balance - or pay online.

So again, I can't stress this enough - before leaving your bank - do your homework.

But don't be afraid to move your money around if there's something out there better for you and your family.

Airline Fees Skyrocket!

by Gerri Willis

If you fly you know the airlines are making big bucks off you... and I'm not talking about ticket sales! A new USA Today survey of 13 U.S. carriers shows just how much airlines are charging you on everything from bags, to changing your tickets, to booking online. Here are some of the most egregious examples: For an overweight bag - that's more than 70lbs - Continental and United are charging $400 on international flights...and heading to Asia on American Airlines with a heavy bag - you'll have to shell out $450. Check out the full survey on USA Today: www.usatoday.com/money/industries/travel/story/2011-09-19/Airline-fees-reach-400-mark-USA-TODAY-survey-finds/50470156/1

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