Cash, Cropped: Bank Fees Hit Black and Latinx Customers the Hardest, According to New Poll

Illustration for article titled Cash, Cropped: Bank Fees Hit Black and Latinx Customers the Hardest, According to New Poll
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Black and Latinx people pay more than white people when it comes to banking fees, according to a new report released Wednesday.


The survey results (h/t USA Today) come from financial services website, which asked 2,634 adults how much they spend per month on routine financial service charges, like ATM fees and overdraft penalties.

As USA Today reports, there were major discrepancies based on race and ethnicity, with people identifying as Hispanic paying more, on average, than other groups, while white checking account holders paid the lowest.

On average, white respondents said they spent $5 a month on bank charges. But Latinx participants paid more than three times that, at $16 per month. Black checking account holders said they paid an average of $12 a month. Survey participants who identified as other races or ethnicities said they paid $8.

White participants were also more likely to say they didn’t pay any fees at all on any given month, at 78 percent. This was substantially higher than Latinx and black respondents, of whom 59 percent and 60 percent reported going “fee-free” during a typical month. Meanwhile, 73 percent of checking account holders who identified as other races and ethnicities said they usually go a full month without fees.

These numbers may seem relatively minor—depending on where you live, $12 or $16 could be lunch money—but they pair with larger trends of income and wealth disparities that show black and Latinx household net less than other groups while having less access to financial resources or being the targets of discriminatory banking practices.

Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick told USA Today there are multiple factors playing into these results, including relationships and access to local, as well as geographic location.


“It could be because you live in a more marginalized neighborhood where there’s lower-income and fewer financial service companies staking out a presence in that community,” said Hamrick.

The study also speaks to generational and regional differences, finding that millennials and people living in the Northeast were also more likely to pay banking fees. Hamrick pointed to millennials being less experienced banking customers and having fewer assets as a reason they may be paying more in fees. As for you suckers that live in the Northeast (of which I am sadly one), Hamrick pointed to the higher cost of living in those states than in the South and Midwest.


Though, speaking anecdotally as one (1) woman, those answers feel incomplete—as someone who has paid more in banking fees in New York City than in any other place I’ve lived in the past. Not only are there more services for which I must pay in cash, but my bank is almost always at least a 20-minute subway ride away. Sometimes, the bodega is the only option you got! This was not the case when I lived in Virginia or North Carolina and just took an extra 5 to 10 minutes in my little 2002 Ford Focus to scoop some cash. (And this is a very small example that doesn’t touch heftier fees, like overdraft charges.)

Which is to say, accessibility matters. And moreover—if you live that fee-free life (in New York City, especially), I want to know about it!

Staff writer, The Root.


Raineyb1013, Misfit Black Girl Island Denizen

I am doing my banking fee free in NYC but it comes at a cost. I would prefer to use a credit union since they’re not quite the rapacious pieces of shit the regular banks are. However, to get to an ATM that I wouldn’t have to pay for is literally an hour bus ride away (at least.) So I have an account with the dreaded Chase. In order to avoid fees I have to have a certain amount per month direct deposited into the account so I have my paycheck direct deposited. Otherwise I would have to keep a balance of like 1500 bucks. Who the hell has that to just sit in a bank account not being used to to stave off fees?