More than nine in 10 current accounts for day-to-day customers in the UK have a subscription charge or fees for the use of an overdraft, research shows.
Financial information service Moneyfacts said the complexity of accounts meant it was difficult for customers to find their best option.
Bank customers have become accustomed to paying a fee for add-ons to their account, such as insurance.
But fee-charging accounts now tend to offer other incentives.
These tend to include cashback for opening an account, or discounts at certain retailers.
‘Free banking myth’
Moneyfacts found that customers with accounts that had a regular management fee paid £131 a year on average.
However, some customers with subscription-free accounts might actually be worse off, owing to the extra charges when going overdrawn.
Moneyfacts looked at the extreme case of a customer who took an unauthorised overdraft for 30 consecutive days in each of the 12 months of the year. Typically they would face charges of £918 a year.
However, Moneyfacts found that only one in five of all types of current accounts paid interest to customers who kept money in their account.
Rachel Springall, of Moneyfacts, said: “It is clear that the concept of free banking has become a bit of a myth for the majority of standard current account customers.
“The complex nature of current accounts makes it hard to choose the right option upfront, which means that when someone does borrow, the fees are likely to give them a nasty surprise.”
Earlier this month, the Finances Services Consumer Panel (FSCP), a consumer watchdog which advises the City regulator, suggested that a duty of care from banks to their customers should be enshrined in law to prevent further mis-selling scandals.
It said customers thought banks were only interested in winning new business.
The British Bankers’ Association, which represents that major UK banks, said that its members were committed to treating their customers fairly and providing them with “a first-class service”.
Bank current account fees are the norm, says Moneyfacts – BBC News. 2016. Bank current account fees are the norm, says Moneyfacts – BBC News. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35865420. [Accessed 22 March 2016].