How to Avoid the Banking Fees
As the recession rages on, many banks that once offered free checking are now implementing new fees and/or raising existing fees on accounts. For debtors exiting bankruptcy, these fees can be a hindrance to their financial goals because they can add up to hundreds of dollars a year once combined.

The average overdraft fee hit an all-time high of $30.47 in 2010, and the typical ATM charge reached a record $2.33, according to . ATM fees are expected to keep rising – banking giant Chase is testing fees of $5 in Illinois and $4 in Texas for customers of other banks who use Chase ATMs. (The fee in Florida is still $3.)

Meanwhile, free checking is slowly disappearing as banks impose more restrictions on no-fee accounts. Only 65 percent of banks offered free checking last year, down from 76 percent in 2009, according to Bankrate. And the average monthly fee for no-­interest checking accounts rose to $2.49 last year, a 40 percent increase.

Five dollars to get your money out of an ATM is an extremely steep fee. That’s why post-bankruptcy debtors who are considering online checking accounts need to be careful. How much will it cost you to withdraw cash? Does the online bank have physical ATMs or do they have a relationship with another bank which will allow you to use their ATM system for free?

Ways post-bankruptcy debtors may be able to avoid bank fees:

Maintaining a minimum balance required by the bank. We know that cash can be tight when exiting bankruptcy. However, keeping a minimum balance of $100 in certain bank accounts may allow you to avoid monthly maintenance fees. Talk to your bank to find out their minimum balance requirements.
Join a credit union after you exit bankruptcy. Credit Unions traditionally have low fees and you can usually join for a small deposit. But make sure they have a strong ATM network in your location.
Debtors exiting bankruptcy might consider maintaining multiple accounts at the same bank. Some banks will waive maintenance fees if you have a checking, savings and loan with their institution.
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