No more debit card fees. What will the banks try next?

November 2, 2011: 7:42 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Just because debit-card fees are out of the picture for now, don't stop checking your bank statements.

Even though big banks like Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) canceled their plans to make billions of dollars by charging customers monthly fees for using their debit cards, there are plenty of other ways they can rake in extra revenue.

"The banks underestimated just how angry people would get when you charge them to access their own money," said John Ulzheimer, credit specialist and president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com. "They're all pulling back, but concurrently figuring out where to stick equivalent fees somewhere else so that they won't make us quite as angry."

So while the banks may keep their hands off your debit cards (for the time being at least), they will try to make money by hiking existing fees and credit card interest rates and by lowering rates on deposit accounts, he said.

Hiking existing fees: To keep customers from revolting, banks are more likely to increase fees that already exist -- everything from ATM fees to foreign exchange fees to paper statement fees -- than to create new, headline-grabbing ones.

Checking account fees, for example, have already been on the rise, especially since the Federal Reserve took a significant slice of revenue away from banks by capping the fees they can charge retailers each time a customer swipes their debit card.

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"You already are paying a fee [on checking accounts] so any increase may fly a little more under the radar compared to assessing a fee on your debit card," said Bill Hardekopf, CEO of credit card comparison site LowCards.com.

Banks will also likely hike fees tied to punitive charges such as late fees, said Ulzheimer.

"They're more likely to pick fees like late fees where they can say: 'You can just avoid it by not doing this,'" he said.

While late fees usually range between $30 and $40, they may jump 2% to 3% higher -- just enough to bring in some extra revenue for the banks but not enough to cause customers to jump ship to another bank. Although if you're late making a payment, paying a $46 late fee will undoubtedly sting.

TD Bank (TD) is already rolling out a new fee and raising others. The bank notified customers in October that it will begin charging a $9 fee each time they withdraw or transfer money from their savings account (once they have exceeded six transactions in a billing cycle).

The bank is also raising four existing fees: wire transfer fees, certified check fees, money order fees and stop-payment fees.

Credit card interest rate hikes: Credit card interest rates are another easy target, because it's another area where banks can argue that paying interest is completely avoidable as long as a consumer stays on top of their payments.

The increases won't necessarily be drastic -- a cardholder's rate could go from 29.9% to 30%, for example -- but the charges will certainly add up.

"Interest rate increases could be very, very nominal -- maybe 10 basis points," said Ulzheimer. "This wouldn't be enough to make a customer leave, but it would bring in billions and billions of dollars for the banks if they did this across the board."

Under the CARD Act, banks are prohibited from raising interest rates during the first year you open a card. After that though you're fair game as long as they give you 45 days notice of the increase. The higher rates will only apply to new purchases, however. Banks can no longer retroactively apply rates to existing balances.

Lower deposit rates: While rates on credit cards may rise, rates on deposit accounts -- including checking, savings and money market account -- may drop.

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Banks could generate more than a billion dollars in revenue by simply lowering deposit rates by 0.01% a month, a study conducted by Market Rates Insight found. Doing this would cut costs for the banks by about $1.5 billion a month, giving them double the $875 million in revenue they would have received from introducing the $5 debit card fees, Market Rates estimated.

"By increasing the level of pricing precision and analytics, banks can maintain a healthy net interest margin and protect their bottom line in the next two to three years until the economy recovers," said Dan Geller, executive vice president at Market Rates Insight. "Better yet, this objective can be achieved with minimal effort and, most importantly, without alienating customers."

When will the changes pop up?: Given the recent debit card fee debacle, not right away, said Ulzheimer. But new costs will probably begin showing up early next year.

"Now's not the right time to be disclosing new fees -- they need some time to figure out how to be more strategic in announcing and rolling them out," he said. "They'll make sure to be smarter about it next time, and introduce them by saying: 'Look here's a new fee, but you can avoid it by doing this.'"

Have you seen any new fees pop up on your statement? E-mail blake.ellis@turner.com for the chance to be featured in an upcoming story on CNNMoney. To top of page

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