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Avoiding new bank fees is no easy task

Monday - 10/17/2011, 2:26pm  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- It's not going to be easy to avoid those new debit card fees.

Many banks are requiring things like minimum balance, direct deposit or bill-pay to avoid the fee.

But Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, says there are places you can go to avoid the fees.

"Credit unions, smaller banks, community banks, online banks. There are some good options out there," she says.

The only thing banks will listen to is large numbers of people changing their banks, Greenberg says.

If you are going to switch, make sure you read the fine print at any new bank.

Greenberg suggests you do an internet search to try and find banks with no fees.

"Ask them, 'How can I avoid this fee and how can I avoid that fee?' That's the best way to protect yourself."

Greenberg says the fees are not fair. She points out that deposits for banks in the Washington region are up $6.7 billion in the past year, which means the banks have more money to invest and increase their profits.

But Greenberg says the days of totally free bank services may be gone forever.

Bank of America created a furor last month when the company announced it will start charging a $5 a month fee on debit card use. Several other banks have instituted similar fees.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)