Need to find an affordable banking relationship — one that pays a decent rate of interest on your deposits, while not charging too much in fees? Your chances are much greater in Arkansas than Arizona, according to a study by GoBankingRates.com.
In Arkansas, which ranks among the 10 best states for affordable banking, the average checking account pays 0.3% and has a minimum balance requirement of just $395 to avoid all monthly checking account fees. Arizona residents, on the other hand, earn an average of just 0.1% — one third less — on their checking deposits, and must keep more than 10 times as much money in their accounts to avoid monthly maintenance fees, according to the survey.
When coming up with rankings of most and least affordable states for banking, GoBankingRates looked at the rates consumers could earn on both savings and checking accounts, minimum balances required to waive monthly account fees, the level of those charges, as well as the fees charged for common transactions, such as withdrawing money at an out-of-network ATM or bouncing a check.
Arkansas’ low minimum balance requirement played a key role in the state’s top ranking, but so did the fact that the region’s banks charge lower-than-average overdraft fees ($29) and just $2 for using out-of-network ATMs. In Arizona, overdraft fees average $33 and consumers get dinged $3 each time they hit up another bank’s ATM for cash.
Other states that made the best or worst lists had different claims to fame. Among the most affordable states, for example, Iowa offered the best average savings rate on checking account deposits at 0.424% and boasted relatively low monthly account maintenance fees — $3 for savings and $7 for checking. Oklahoma banks charged the least for bounced checks, $27 on average.
In the 10 states where banking is least affordable, on the other hand, overdraft fees averaged from $30 to $35, minimum balance requirements were high, as were monthly maintenance fees for those who didn’t maintain those minimum balances. Among the standouts: Nevada banks charged the highest monthly account maintenance fees, averaging $5 for savings accounts and $14 for checking. California banks were not far behind, charging an average of $4 per month for savings and $14 for checking. Institutions in Washington, D.C., charged the most for overdrafts —$35. But Connecticut and South Carolina banks weren’t far behind, charging an average of $34. Connecticut banks were also the stingiest with interest payments, paying depositors an average of just 0.085% on checking and 0.056% on savings account balances, according to GoBankingRates. The highest average minimum balance requirements were imposed by banks in Arizona, where you’d have to keep $5,193 in your checking account to avoid the average $13 monthly account maintenance fee.
Of course, there are banks in every state that buck the trends. But if you’re in one of the high-cost states, you’ll probably have to shop harder and compare rates and fees more carefully. How does your state rate on affordable banking? Check it out here.