Bank Overdraft Revenue Rises to $31.5 Billion

Another telling consumer banking report was released this week, this time showing that checking account overdraft fee revenue increased to $31.5 billion for the last fiscal year.

Financial data firm Moebs Services, based in Lake Bluff, Ill., asked 2,700 financial institutions around the country and found overdraft revenue, the money banks receive when customers spend more than their checking-account balances, increased 2.1 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30, from $30.8 billion the prior year.

The median overdraft fee rose to $29 from $28 the prior year, a 3.6 percent increase, according to the survey.

The region with the lowest overdraft fee was Green Bay, Wis. at $8 for a transaction. The highest fee was in Gainesville, Fla., where residents were charged $45 on average.

Higher fees and more overdrafts both appear to be driving the increase in revenue, Moebs found as part of its annual survey of financial institutions.

The increase of $700 million came from a 3.6 percent increase in fee price and a 1.4 percent decrease in volume.

"Despite regulation and legislation, such as 2008's Truth in Savings, 2010's Reg E opt-in requirements, and the 2011 overdraft guidelines issued by the FDIC, consumers' use of overdrafts shows no indication of going away," said CEO of Moebs Services, Michael Moebs, in a statement.

Also this week, personal finance site released its annual checking survey which found that free checking is becoming more rare in the U.S.

See the checking account fees at 10 large U.S. banks.

The Bankrate survey found 39 percent of non-interest checking accounts were free, down from 45 percent last year. collected information from ten banks within each of 25 large U.S. markets.