Quiz: The Right Bank For You?

Staff

Some banks discourage us from using live tellers by instituting a monthly fee or by allowing only a certain number of face-to-face transactions each month. About how much do banks pay per transaction for a live teller?

It costs banks about 27 cents per transaction at an ATM, but about $1.07 for a live teller.

You have the choice between two CDs. You can put $10,000 into a CD with an APR of 5 percent in which the interest is applied monthly, or the same amount into a CD with an APY of 5.12 percent. Which savings product means the highest yield?

When the interest is applied to the balance monthly, we break down the APR into twelve smaller interest payments (0.42% per month here) and apply each amount to the balance. In other words, the first month you'll earn $42 on your deposit, but the next month you'll be getting 0.42% on $10,042. In the end, you'll have earned $512 on the deposit in either case. Always remember to compare the two when looking at any savings product or account.

In 2009, 76 percent of all checking accounts were truly free, from both monthly fees and balance requirements. In 2010, did that number change?

In 2010, only 65 percent of noninterest checking accounts were truly free. However, those that required incentives like using direct deposit or debit cards, instead of balance requirements, bring that number up to 88 percent.

Nationally, how much of our money is currently held in noninterest or low-interest checking and savings accounts?

We currently keep more than $1 trillion in low- (or non) interest accounts.

Bounced-check (insufficient funds, or NSF) fees rise every year. What was the average bounced-check (NSF) fee in 2010?

NSF fees have been rising for the last 12 years. In 2010, the average rose to $30.47, up from $29.58.

Monthly service fees on checking accounts have begun to rise. In 2009, the average fee was $1.77. How much was the average in 2010?

For the first time since 1998, the average fee on noninterest checking accounts rose, to $2.49 in 2010. Interest-bearing checking accounts have risen over the last year to $13.04, from $12.55.

Your ATM fees could be nearly $10 per transaction, depending on your bank and the ATMs you use. How much do banks make every year on these fees?

Banks currently get over $2 billion a year from ATM fees. That's free money out of our pockets and into theirs, purely for convenience (or from not doing our research).

Large corporations often spend as much time buying votes and lobbying through political action committees as they do responding to legal fines and investigations. How much did Bank of America spend, in 2009 and 2010, on legal fines and lobbying?

Bank of America paid $428.6 million in fraud fines in 2009 and 2010, and they spent $6.52 million lobbying government agencies -- including the Securities & Exchange Commission, which led the fraud investigation.

The average minimum balance for a "free" checking account in 2009 was $185.75. In 2010, that average has risen to:

The minimum average balance is now $249.50, an increase of $63.75. Overall, that's 228 percent more than the 2008 average of $109.26.

During the first three quarters of 2009, the five largest banks that received government bailout money spent about $90 billion on compensation (including salaries, benefits and bonuses). How much of this money typically goes to executive bonuses?

About half of most budgeted compensation totals comprise executive bonuses.

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About This Quiz

You should consider many factors when choosing the right bank or credit union for your personal household needs. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of banking and the decision-making process you face when choosing a financial institution.

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