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Can Menlo Park Tackle Record-High ATM and Checking Account Fees?

Bank charges have hit all-time highs. Free checking accounts have all but disappeared. ATM charges are up. Have you noticed? Are you doing anything about it, like switching banks?

Has your bank raised fees on checking accounts and ATM transactions?

If so, you're not alone.

A survey by the trade industry group Bankrate.com found that "almost every checking fee we follow went up, with some bank fees rising 25 percent or more."

Free checking accounts are fast disappearing too. Bankrate found that just 39 percent of non-interest checking accounts are free of charge to all customers — down from 45 percent last year and a peak of 76 percent in 2009.

The same group said poll results suggest that 72 percent of Americans would consider switching banks if their financial institution raised its fees. That figure was 64 percent in March 2011.

A fee revolt swept the nation at the end of 2011 when a grassroots campaign — Move Our Money — persuaded many Americans to move their money from big banks to community banks or credit unions.

One way to explore whether or not it's time to change banks is to use online comparison tools, such as FindABetterBank.com or through BankRate.com's comparison charts.

Fees at Major Banks in Menlo Park:

Bank Min. Balance to Open Min. Balance to Avoid Fees Monthly Fees Insufficient Funds Fee Fee at Other ATMs Chase Bank $25 $1500 $10 $34 $2 Wells Fargo $100 $1500 $9 $25 $3 Bank of the West $100 $1000 $10 $26 $2 Bank of America $25 $1500 $12 $35 $2 Citi Bank $0 $1500 $10 $34 $2

Have you recognized a rise in ATM and checking fees? Are you doing anything about it, like switching banks? Share your experience in the comments, and any tips for avoiding extra charges.

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