Why Are Banks Raising Fees?

A customer uses a CitiBank ATM in Palo Alto, Calif., Feb. 24, 2009.
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
With mortgage defaults and unemployment still on the rise, the big banks are still taking a beating on bad consumer loans. Bank of America said today that it's put aside another $13 billion to cover mounting losses. Citigroup $3.9 billion.

To offset those losses banks are hiking fees even on good customers as CBS News Business Correspondent Anthony Mason reports.

"Banks are looking to do much what airlines, state and local governments are doing. And that is fill the revenue gap by boosting fee income," said Greg McBride of Bankrate.com

Mary Gorman found that out after she her 48-year-old son died. When she went to close his checking account, Bank of America hit her with a $100 fee.

"I just didn't realize they would charge to close an account. They're taking money from a dead person," said Gorman.

Bank of America later refunded the money. But in June, it raised the fee on its basic monthly checking account from $5.95 to $8.95.

Among big banks, the average ATM charge is now nearly two dollars - up from $1.78 just a year ago. The median overdraft charge, which 6 years ago was $20, has jumped to $26 this year. The first time it's increased during a recession.

Heather Dunado got hit by those higher fees, when a loan was late being transferred into her account.

"So not only was the money for the bills gone. I also had $120 in overdraft fees," she said.

But as job losses mount, many borrowers are falling behind on their payments:

Analyst Paul Miller believes unemployment could be headed for 11 percent, and cause a lot of problems in the banks.

The banks want to raise fees now because new restrictions passed by Congress take effect in February. The fed is also working on new rules on overdraft protection.

  • Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"