With lending subdued, retail banks in America are turning to transaction fees to cushion their earnings. A new survey of banks in the country’s largest markets by Bankrate, a personal finance information provider, provides the details.

Average fees for bounced cheques (US$30.47) and use of out-of-network automated teller machines (US$2.33) both reached all-time highs this year. But even if customers stick within their banks’ ATM networks and always remain in credit, fees are still difficult to avoid, with 65% of banks offering no-minimum, fee-free checking accounts (current accounts), down from 76% last year. What’s more, the average minimum balance required to avoid fees on the cheapest fee-paying accounts is now US$249.50, more than double the average only two years ago.