You’re Probably Paying Less in Overdraft Fees Than You Used To

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The Wall Street Journal has an interesting short piece about overdraft fees today, including some facts and figures I haven’t seen before. Here are the trends between 2009 and 2013:

  • Average number of overdrafts per year: down from 9.8 to 7.1
  • Total overdraft revenue: down from $37.1 billion to $31.9 billion
  • Average overdraft charge: up from $27.50 to $30 (in 2013 dollars)

That’s a decrease of nearly a third in the annual number of overdrafts per checking account. This is likely because of new regulations, and banks have responded by raising the average fee in order to recoup some of their lost revenue.

Overall, this is a net benefit. The reduction in the number of overdrafts per year can probably be attributed to legal and regulatory actions that have reined in or flatly banned some of the worst abuses: clearing large payments first, refusing to let customers opt out of overdraft protection, slowing down payment credits, and so forth. These were the most outrageous fees, and eliminating them has helped consumers even if banks have partially made up for it with higher fees. In inflation-adjusted terms, the average person is now paying $213 in overdraft fees each year, compared to $269 in 2009. It’s a start.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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