Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Industry notes: Banking


Survey shows it costs more to earn interest

By Jeff McKinney
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The cost to maintain an interest-bearing checking account at U.S. banks and thrifts continues to rise, according to a new study.

But bankers say consumers can avoid the fees if they shop around.

Today, it costs 14 percent more to earn interest in a checking account than it did six months ago, according to Bankrate.com's spring 2003 survey. The survey analyzed 1,235 accounts at 350 banks and thrifts in 35 of the nation's largest cities, including Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

The average minimum balance required to open an account and earn interest is $832.09. That's up 14 percent from the $727.62 minimum in October and 25 percent higher than in October 2000.

No-interest accounts are cheaper to open than six months ago, but the minimum balance also is higher. The average today is $88.42, up 19 percent from the $74.28 minimum last fall.

It also costs more to avoid fees. On average, according to Bankrate.com, it takes a minimum balance of $2,964.10 to avoid fees in an interest-bearing checking account and $409.79 in a non-interest account. That's a 14 percent rise in both accounts since October.

Moreover, the monthly service fee for interest accounts rose a tad to $10.73 from $10.59. The $6.18 fee on non-interest accounts was unchanged.

Tracey Mills, a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association, the industry's largest trade group, said that despite Bankrate.com's latest survey of higher fees, consumers can avoid fees if they shop around and carefully follow the terms of their checking accounts.

She also said that 58 percent of U.S. consumers spend $3 or less in monthly fees for banking services, including checking and savings account maintenance and ATM usage.

Credit card users charging fast food

More Americans are using plastic to pay for everything from chicken wings to tacos.

U.S. consumers charged more than $6 billion worth of fast food on credit cards last year, up from $3.7 billion in 2001, according to a report by Cardweb.com, an online site that tracks such electronic payments.

In the past two years, the number of fast-food sales on credit cards has more than tripled though just less than 15 percent quick-service places accept plastic for payment.

Huntington opening at Rookwood Pavilion

Hoping to help boost deposit market share, Huntington Bank has opened a branch at Rookwood Pavilion in Norwood.

That office will join three others - two in West Chester and one in Springboro in July - that the bank plans to open this year. Huntington is expected to invest an estimated $4.5 million to $5 million for its first local branch expansion since 1997.

Huntington, with assets of about $1.1 billion locally, operates 29 branches in Greater Cincinnati.

Spring Valley named top community bank

Spring Valley Bank in Wyoming has been ranked as Ohio's top community bank and 12th nationally among its peers by American Banker, an industry trade publication.

Spring Valley, founded by Cincinnati businessman Gerald Robinson in 1997, earned the rankings for 2002 based on return on assets, an industry profitability barometer.

Spring Valley had return on assets of 4.35 percent last year, as compared with percent to 1.5 percent for most banks.

E-mail jmckinney@enquirer.com




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Industry notes: Banking