Overdraft fees on the rise

|By:, SA News Editor

A few years after public and regulatory outcry forced banks to reverse course on overdraft fee hikes, lenders are lifting them again, with economic research firm Moebs Services putting the median fee at $30 in 2013, up $1 from 2012, and $4 from 2009. "Banks have a revenue gap that needs to be recouped," says Bankrate's Greg McBride.

Call it an unintended consequence of new regulation. The Fed in 2010 stopped banks from automatically charging overdraft fees on debit-card and ATM transactions, and among Dodd-Frank's rules is an amendment lowering debit-card fees charged to merchants. Overdraft fees are where the money is in checking, with KBW estimating banks generated $31.9B of overdraft revenue in 2013, well off from a peak of $37.1B in 2009.

Among those hiking: U.S. Bancorp (USB) boosted its fee to $36 from $35 last August and Boston Private Bank (BPFH -0.3%) to $30 from $25.

Banks like Wells Fargo (WFC -0.1%) and JPMorgan (JPM -0.4%) offer overdraft-protection programs where money is transferred from another account to cover the shortfall. The fee at Wells is $12.50 for each day it's used; Chase charges $10.

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