DEFINITION of 'Bank Fees'

Bank fees are nominal fees for a variety of account set-up and maintenance, and minor transactional services for retail and business customers. Fees can be one-time, ongoing or related to penalties.


Banks fees seemingly lurk everywhere. There is comprehensive disclosure of the menu of fees on banks' websites and in pamphlets with fine print. Customers must carefully read the disclosures to avoid surprises. Certain fees apply to all customers across the board, while others may be waived under certain conditions. While competition is a natural regulator of where a bank may apply fees and how much it thinks it can get away with, government authorities such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) stand by to field complaints and concerns from the public about fee-charging practices by banks.

Sample List of Bank Fees

Wells Fargo charges retail customers fees for ATM transactions (with some exceptions), cashier's checks, money orders, overdrafts, bounced checks, overdraft protection, stop payment requests, wire transfers, safety deposit boxes, minimum account balance requirements and others. Fees for merchant, payroll, and bill payment services apply for small businesses, while treasury management and corporate trust services offered by a bank to larger businesses carry fees. Also, fees for establishing and maintaining loans or lines of credit, the bread-and-butter of all banks, apply to all.

Importance of Bank Fees to Profitability

The primary source of revenue for a bank is net interest income, but a material portion of total revenue comes from bank fees. In 2017, fee income (booked under "noninterest income") for Wells Fargo accounted for approximately 35% of aggregate revenue. An individual fee may be nominal but they add up nicely for a bank. When the net interest margin for a bank is squeezed in a low interest rate environment, bank fees provide a measure of stability to bank earnings.

  1. Fee

    A fee is a fixed price charged for a specific service and is ...
  2. Fee Income

    Fee income includes noninterest related income produced by financial ...
  3. Service Charge

    A service charge is a type of fee collected to pay for services ...
  4. Loan Application Fee

    A loan application fee is a fee charged to a potential borrower ...
  5. Garbage Fees

    Unnecessary fees tacked onto mortgage closing costs by lenders ...
  6. Returned Payment Fee

    A returned payment fee is a charge a credit card company may ...
Related Articles
  1. Managing Wealth

    Changes To Your Checking Account

    Checking accounts have evolved a lot over the years. Here are the five biggest changes that can affect your wallet.
  2. Personal Finance

    The Ins And Outs Of Bank Fees

    These service charges could nickel and dime you right out of your nest egg.
  3. Personal Finance

    The Most Costly Banking Mistakes You Can Make

    With changing and increasing fees, it can be difficult to avoid bank charges, but investing time in finding out what your bank charges, and when, can help you save money.
  4. Investing

    8 Investing Fees That You Should Never Pay

    In investment management and financial planning there are a plethora of fees that are unnecessary.
  5. Investing

    Are Fees Depleting Your Retirement Savings?  

    Each retirement account will have a fee associated with it. The key is to lower these fees as much as possible to maximize your return.
  6. Insights

    JPMorgan, BoA, Wells Fargo Draw $6.4 Bln in Fees

    Fees disproportionately impact low and moderate income families in America.
  7. Investing

    A Guide To Investor Fees

    Fees are one of the most important determinants of investment performance and something that every investor should know.
  8. Personal Finance

    Top Checking Accounts With No Overdraft Fees

    Choosing the right checking account could save you hundreds of dollars in fees every year.
  9. Personal Finance

    Watch Out for "Junk" Mortgage Fees

    So many fees are tacked onto a mortgage, that it's easy to pay more than you have to.
  10. Financial Advisor

    How to Talk Fees with Clients

    Talking about fees with clients is not always a fun discussion. Here's the best way to go about it.
  1. What kinds of fees are involved in futures trading?

    Learn what the various costs are that are charged by brokerage firms and trading exchanges to individual futures trading ... Read Answer >>
  2. Where do I look for fees that I am charged on investments? What are those fees called?

    The fees and expenses charged for investments vary. The fees usually depend on the type of investment and the investment ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Standard Deviation

    A measure of the dispersion of a set of data from its mean, calculated as the square root of the variance. The more spread ...
  2. Entrepreneur

    An Entrepreneur is an individual who founds and runs a small business and assumes all the risk and reward of the venture. ...
  3. Money Market

    The money market is a segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities ...
  4. Perfect Competition

    Pure or perfect competition is a theoretical market structure in which a number of criteria such as perfect information and ...
  5. Compound Interest

    Compound Interest is interest calculated on the initial principal and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods ...
  6. Income Statement

    A financial statement that measures a company's financial performance over a specific accounting period. Financial performance ...
Trading Center