As banks have become ruthless in terms of deposit growth and profit, one of the nastier ways for them to make money on your money is that ugly four-letter word -- fees.

From "convenience" fees to "overdraft" fees to "minimum balance" fees, banks will stop nothing short of ludicrous levels to zap every single penny out of unsuspecting customers. Like anything, all those small zaps can lead to considerable losses over time, like never finding change under your sofa cushions even though you drop quarters there all the time.

I've never understood overdraft fees, insofar as how high they are. $30 or so is absolutely incredible considering many overdrafts are for small amounts. It's up to us and our hurried lives to track that checking account religiously to make sure we're not overextending our day-to-day finances, though. Overdraft fees alone are akin to extended warranties at electronics stores -- pure profit with very little value to the consumer.

It's estimated that in 2006, consumers paid an estimated $17.5 billion in overdraft fees. That's billion with a b. If you have an overdraft once per year, ask your bank to waive the fee. For good customers with regular deposits, this should not be a problem. Not getting anywhere? There are plenty of other banks that want your business. Indeed, there's a bank to fit every wallet. Click here to find out what bank might be best for you.

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