Instead of applause from the giant monster mega-banks thanking us for bailing them out, we're getting one hand clapping. Do you know what one hand clapping is? It's a slap right across the face. We're being played as patsies by the big banks, and one way they're doing it is by feeing you to death.

The fees are coming in several places: New checking account charges; new fees being assessed monthly or annually to have a credit card; and massive ATM fees. The day of the $10 combined ATM charge is here, when you get hit with a fee for using a machine as a non-customer and another fee from your own bank.

How is it that these fees have gone up and up and up? The reality is that banks will continue playing this game until people decide all the fees are enough. Some people value convenience over everything else and won't ever reach that point. That's a big mistake.

It is so easy to bank with a credit union, online bank or stock broker that will reimburse your ATM charges. This idea was kind of on the periphery until Charles Schwab introduced its own checking account with unlimited ATM withdrawals fee free. I think that's too generous of Chuck. Even doing something like USAA does where you get reimbursed for up to 4 withdrawals a month is good enough.  

The question for you is, when is the last time you looked closely at your checking account statement and saw all the fees you're being charged? That's my assignment for you: Take that statement out and see. Maybe you are on a completely free ride, but what if you're not?

Big banks are certainly taking a free ride on you if you have a savings account with them. They pay virtually 0% on savings, so you're effectively lending them money for free. Why not take that savings account and move it to an online bank or a credit union? (You can even leave your checking account with the big bank, but definitely move your savings account.)

You work hard for your money. Don't let somebody take it from you.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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