Avoid hidden banking fees

While it’s easy to skim over the details when opening a bank account or taking out a loan, failing to understand what you're signing up for can cause some real problems later.

But reading and grasping the meaning of the fine print isn't always so simple.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group visited more than 350 banks and credit union branches in 2012, seeking information on the fees they charge.

More than half flouted the law, failing to provide fee schedules on first request as required, and 12% refused to comply after repeated requests.

"Banks count on the lack of easy-to-find fee information and the difficulty of shopping around as a way to keep fees high," contends Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG’s consumer program director.

All the more reason to be vigilant.

Knowing what potential surprises await you when opening a checking account or taking out a loan can save you money and hassle. Follow our advice, and you'll be less likely to be caught off guard by hidden banking fees.