May 2017

Bank Fees, Aftermarkets, and Consumer Behavior

Robert M. Adams


Fees for banking services have been a policy concern for over 20 years and the subject of several government agencies studies, which focused on the magnitude, incidence, or disclosure of such fees. Using a sample of single market banks, I study the relationship between market-level consumer characteristics and bank fee revenue, fees, and bank return on assets (ROA) to infer consumer and firm behavior. Of particular interest, I use county-level IRS tax records as a measure of the consumer income distribution, but my analysis also includes measures of age and education distributions. I find very little evidence that banks are systematically charging higher aftermarket fees in counties with greater proportions of younger, less educated, or poorer households. Standard measures of competition such as the Herfindahl-Hirschmann Index of deposit concentration are correlated with fees for base checking accounts, but not correlated with aftermarket product fees. Finally, state-wide restrictions on payday lending are correlated with higher bank fees, but not with increased bank revenue or ROA.

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Keywords: Aftermarkets, banking, competition, overdraft fees


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Last Update: January 09, 2020