TD Bank hikes fees on checking account services

NEW YORK (AP) - November 3, 2011

TD Bank is hiking a variety of service fees on its checking accounts.

The bank said Thursday the higher fees on wire transfers, certified checks, money orders and stop-payment fees will take effect next month. TD Bank will also start charging $9 after the sixth withdrawal from select savings accounts.

The fee hikes are just the latest unwelcome changes for bank customers. The industry over the past year has cited new regulations in imposing higher fees and scaling back perks on checking accounts.

Customers of TD Bank, for example, already saw their checking account terms change earlier this year. In March, the bank hiked the monthly fee on its basic checking account to $3.99, up from $3. But the bank offered a $1 discount to customers who opted for online statements. Customers are also no longer reimbursed for fees they incur at out-of-network ATMs.

The latest changes to take effect Dec. 3 at TD Bank are:

-Wire transfers will cost $15, up from $10

-Certified checks will cost $8, up from $4

-Money orders will cost $5, up from $4

-Stop-payment fees will cost $30, up from $25

TD Bank said in a statement that it carefully chose to hike fees that would have the least impact on customers. "We looked to those that were peripheral to them, avoidable and impacted a limited number of customers," the bank said.

Although consumers tend to focus on monthly service fees, the changes at TD Bank highlight the numerous ancillary charges customers can incur with checking accounts. A study by The Pew Charitable Trusts this year found that checking accounts can come with dozens of different fees, many of which can be difficult for consumers to find on bank websites. To make it easier for consumers to compare such fees, the group has called on federal regulators to require banks to provide standardized fee disclosures on their websites.

"It's very hard to find all those fees in in one place," said Susan Weinstock, director of the Safe Checking Project at Pew. "Right now, you find out about them in two ways. Either when you go to the bank and ask about them, or you find out after the fact when you incur it."

On Thursday, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois planned to join Pew in calling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to require banks to provide disclosures.

It would be the Durbin's latest shot back at the banking industry, which has blamed a regulation backed by the Democrat for the rollout of higher checking account fees in the past year. The so-called Durbin Amendment caps the amount banks can charge merchants whenever customers swipe their debit cards. The Federal Reserve estimates that those fees produced $16 billion in annual revenue for banks.

Despite the onslaught of higher bank fees in the past year, consumers scored a rare victory this week when Bank of America Corp. backpedaled on its plan to charge $5 a month for debit card purchases. The announcement came after competitors JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. said they were canceling trial runs of their own debit card fees.

TD Bank, based in Cherry Hill, N.J, has more than 1,200 locations in 15 states and the District of Columbia and is one of the 10 largest banks in the country. It is a unit of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Canada.

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