Banking & Finance

Is It Time to Divorce Your Bank?

Since the turn of the 21st century, about 15% of marriages have ended in divorce. If you opened a new checking account in 2000 when you got married, you have a better chance of having the same checking account than of having the same spouse.

The average American adult has maintained the same primary checking account for about 16 years. More than a quarter of Americans have had the same checking account for more than 20 years. And the older you are, the longer you’ve stuck with the same bank: for Americans 65 and older the average is 26 years.

The data were reported Monday by, which also noted that the average checking account customer pays around $14 month in fees for the privilege (convenience?) of staying with the same bank.

Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst said:

If you’re paying any kind of fee or having to strand a balance in an otherwise low-yielding account, then it’s time for you to look for better alternatives.

Low-income and young account holders pay the most. More than 30% of checking account customers who earn less than $30,000 pay an average monthly charge of $31; nearly as many — 28% — millennials pay an average of $26.60 a month.

The average overdraft fee is now $33.38, and out-of-network ATM fees average $4.69 per transaction, the 11th consecutive year of a new high.

Bankrate offers four tips to keep in mind if you decide to switch:

You can have accounts at multiple banks. There is no requirement that your checking, savings, mortgage, and car loan all have to come from the same bank.

Don’t close your account immediately. Leave your current account active for a while after you open a new account so that all checks can clear and automatic payments and direct deposits can be transferred.

Read the fine print. Some banks charge for early account closure.

Consider switching your savings account. The top savings account interest rates right now are around 1.4% so it pays to look around.

The full report, along with pointers to the best banks, is available at the website.