Big Banks Make Billions from Junk Fees

New report highlights how banks profit from unnecessary and sometimes illegal fees

Andy Spears
2 min readApr 17


Photo by Nick Sarvari on Unsplash

Overdraft fees. Late fees. Insufficient funds (NSF) fees. Sometimes, you pay a fee if you DON’T pay online. Sometimes, you’re charged a fee if you don’t have payments auto-debited from a checking account.

The array of fees for banking is seemingly endless. Many of these fees are excessive — often costing far more than the bank spends to actually provide the service.

Now, though, we have some insight into just how much big banks are earning by charging these ubiquitous junk fees.

Consumer advocacy group is calling out America’s largest banks after earnings reports revealed these institutions — banks like JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo — earned more than $20 billion last year from junk fees alone.

In January 2022, the CFPB announced an initiative to save consumers billions of dollars by cracking down on “exploitative junk fees.” The CFPB said these fees typically include anything from overdraft and Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) fees, ATM and service fees, and other fees consumers incur in the banking ecosystem.

That’s a lot of profit from fees that are often completely disconnected from the cost of service.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is taking action to limit junk fees — and groups like Accountable are also calling out these excessive fees.

You can — and should- fight back against such fees. Ask questions, and if you don’t get satisfactory answers, take your business elsewhere. There are a number of banks (community banks, credit unions, online banks) that are not part of the Big 5 — and many of them offer fewer fees and even higher interest rates on savings products.

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .