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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013

Big bank fees up for 15th year in a row

By Clark Howard

A new analysis from shows that fees at the big banks are up for the 15th consecutive year.

One of the ploys that giant banks like to use to retain customers is telling them that they can avoid the fees by signing up for multiple products and services. The idea is to create what's called a "sticky," where you have three or more products or services through the same bank so you'll be less inclined to fire them.

But the reality is you have so much choice in the marketplace.

If you have deeper pockets, you really need to be at a stockbroker, either a full-commission broker or discount broker, instead of at a giant bank. Wealthy people have virtually no money in the banks; it's all in brokerage houses.

For those who are not of great means, you'll have a far superior experience at a credit union or small community bank. The only drawback with this option could be the lack of convenient branch locations.

Who would be best served by a big bank? Those who want more meanness in their lives; those who enjoy waking up and being hit with fees left and right; and those who value convenient branch locations over everything else.

If you fall in the latter category, stop and ask yourself, how often you really walk into a bank? I have a credit union account and I only visited a branch one single time the whole of last year.

Another alternative comes from the online banks that have no branches at all. With online access to accounts, who needs the branch?