New Survey Finds Hidden Bank Fees Are Impacting Consumers

Consumers may be presented with more purchase options than ever, but that means they need to be especially mindful about where their money is going.

Bank fees, for example, are taking a toll on people across the U.S., according to the latest report by international money transfer platform TransferWise. Developed with Ipsos, a market research company, the report, “Hidden Bank Fees and Their Consequences,” surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers to analyze the impacts of covert bank fees.

“The lack of awareness is shocking — not that the fees exist, but that people are still paying them and not getting any real value for them,” said personal finance expert and certified financial planner Bobbi Rebell, who contributed insights to the report. “Why is that? The big issue here is being aware of them and taking proactive steps to avoid or minimize them.”

Fittingly, the report aimed to help people figure out how to save money as well as encourage “smart financial practices.”

Key findings of the survey showed that women are better at avoiding fees than men (49 percent of females versus 41 percent of males said they spend $0 on bank fees every year); New Yorkers pay more in fees than the average American does (42 percent of New Yorkers versus 38 percent of the national average are getting hit by ATM fees), and Millennials are “losing big time on foreign exchange” (just 54 percent said they were aware of international transfer fees before being charged).

What’s more, the survey also affirmed that two-in-five respondents confirmed spending between $1 and $25 on these fees every month, or up to $300 a year — money that could otherwise be saved, the report noted.

The research also revealed that 35 percent of Americans would be open to turning to a technology company that provides financial services — such as Amazon, Apple or Facebook — instead of their bank in order to save.

In sum, while Americans succeed at avoiding certain fees, the report suggested that there remains ample room for overall improvement. As Rebell put it: “Never discount the value of a seamless customer experience — people will pay more for things that are easier and faster. The question is: What is the breaking point to switch? As people become more aware of fees, they are more likely to take action. But it will vary for every person depending on their tolerance level.”

A spokesperson for TransferWise confirmed that more than 60 footwear companies use its product to both send and receive money internationally. Customers selling footwear include brands like Gemma Roe and Three Over Seven.

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