Americans Paid $29.5 Billion on Overdraft Fees Last Year

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Bouncing checks is a big business. How big? Courtesy Pew Charitable Trust's update on hidden risks of having a checking account, Americans spent $29.5 billion in overdraft fees alone in 2011. Or, to put that into context, that's nearly three times the $10 billion consumers spent buying newspapers last year. It's one of the many fees that most people don't consider until they have to (take it from your humble correspondent who just bounced a check last week) which is one of the ways that banks make their money. "Financial institutions do not summarize important policies and fee information in a uniform, concise, and easy-to-understand format that allows customers to compare account terms and conditions," Pew concludes. Many banks are thinking about raising their overdraft fees so take this as a nudge to review your own checking account policy.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.