Clark Howard Discusses How To Beat Bank Fees

ATLANTA,None — New regulations take effect Thursday that will seriously cut into the income of big banks.

In an effort to recoup some of that money, many banks are considering doing away with free checking.

"There have been 50 new rules and regulations that have been imposed on banking institutions just over the past two years alone," said David Oliver with the Georgia Bankers Association.

One of those rules involves overdraft fees incurred with your debit card.

In the past, your debit card would work even if your account didn't have money in it. Then the bank would hit you with an overdraft charge. Under new regulations that take effect July 1, banks will need your permission to do that.

So how do you avoid maintenance fees on your checking account? Here's Clark's advice:

First, pay very close attention to everything your bank mails you about your checking account. That way, you won't be caught by surprise if there's a change.

Second, be vocal. If you don't like a new fee, complain.

And last, shop around. Georgia has 300 different banking institutions. Clark doesn't expect all of them to start charging for checking accounts.

Clark said if your bank does start charging a fee, it will likely waive that fee if you maintain a very large balance, or if you use your debit card often, or have other relationships with the bank such as a credit card.