Financial Update (April-June 2001)


Cover Story

Subprime Lending Guidance

Economics of Checks

Greenspan on Lending

Retail Banking Fees

ATM Fee Disclosure


Did You Know?

Data Bank

The Docket

Study Highlights Institutions’ Fees

The Federal Reserve Board recently published an article reviewing the results of its annual survey of the fees depository institutions charge their customers. The article, which examines the 1994–99 period, reviews charges for checking and savings accounts, automated teller machine (ATM) transactions and other retail services.

The results

The article details several significant findings.

  • Only a few of the fees and minimum balances associated with various types of checking and savings accounts changed by significant amounts during the period.
  • Fees associated with several special actions — stop-payment orders, customer-written checks returned for insufficient funds and overdrafts — increased by significant amounts that exceeded the rate of inflation during the period.
  • The most common types of transaction fees imposed for the use of ATMs increased by significant amounts that substantially exceeded the inflation rate. Also, the proportion of depository institutions assessing a fee for use of their ATMs by nondepositors increased dramatically over the 1996–99 period for which the surcharge was tracked.

    The article presents yearly estimates of the proportion of all depository institutions that were offering various services, the proportion that were charging a fee for these services and the changes in these estimates from the previous year.

Survey history

The Federal Reserve has conducted the survey since 1989, when Congress asked the Fed to report annually on changes in the availability of retail banking services and the level of associated fees. At that time, Congress was concerned that new assessment rules for depository institutions would likely cause institutions to pay more for deposit insurance, in turn prompting them to increase fees for their services or decrease services to offset these higher costs.

For the complete article detailing the survey’s findings, see the Federal Reserve Board’s Web site at