MONEY

Most-hated-fee contest: Semifinal round 1

When it comes to getting nickel-and-dimed, there are minor irritations and there are major league champions. Welcome to the big leagues.

Following up on a story in the July issue of MONEY about 15 irritating fees — and how to avoid them — we here at the More Money blog have embarked on a quest to find the most frustrating fee out of all the fees charged by banks, airlines or other companies you do business with. Last week, visitors to the blog voted for their least-favorites and narrowed down the field of 15 outrageous fees to five semifinalists and one wild card; this week, we’re asking you to vote again and select The Most-Hated Fee of All.

So cast your ballot now for what you think is the most frustrating fee among the three in Semifinal Round 1. And be sure to come back later in the week for the second round of the semifinals and the championship match.

Today’s contestants:

  • Giving your cash away at the ATM: The cost of using an automated teller machine that doesn’t belong to your bank keeps rising. For each withdrawal, fees to your home bank and the cash-dispensing institution will total an average of $3.54. (For more about this fee, and how to fight it, click here.)
  • Handing over big bucks to check baggage: Most airlines are charging between $15 and $45 for your first checked bag on domestic flights, and at least $25 for your second. It can cost even more if you don’t prepay online. (For more about this fee, and how to fight it, click here.)
  • Paying for a checking account: The average monthly cost of interest-bearing checking accounts — not that they’re paying much interest these days — rose to $12.55 in 2009, up from $11.97 in 2008. Minimum balances that exempt you from the fee have risen, too. (For more about this fee, and how to fight it, click here.)

Now you know today’s contenders, it’s time to vote for your least-favorite fee! Please add your comments as well.

Follow the More Money blog on Twitter (and be notified of more hated-fee voting) at http://twitter.com/moremoneyblog.

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