Lesson 5: The Hidden Fees
Secondary, Unit 2: All about Banking, Lesson 5
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CNBC: 7 Common Banking Fees and How to Avoid Them Bank Fees Worksheet

Lesson 5: The Hidden Fees

Learning Objective:

Students will be able to identify the fees associated with using a bank.

Jump$tart Standard: Saving: 

8-3a. Compare and contrast different types of financial institutions and their products and services.
12-2a. Select a preferred location for a savings account based on comparison of interest rates and fees at different types of financial institutions. 

SEL Competency: Responsible decision-making


    • Give students access to this article in the announcements section of Stash101 or in Google classrooms: 7 common banking fees and how to avoid them
    • Have a nearby bank’s phone number on hand to be able to model what students are going to do in class or for homework. 
    • Print out this worksheet so students can record their questions and answers when they do the independent activity of calling a bank. 

Bell Ringer (5 min)

Write this number on the board: $69,000,000,000 

Ask: Can someone read this number aloud for me? (Sixty-nine billion.) Now, think about the lesson title—The Hidden Fees—and this number. What do you think this number represents?

Think. Pair. Share.

Say: This number is roughly how much money banks made from consumers during a 3-month period of 2021 for one kind of late fee, referred to as an overdraft or insufficient funds fee. To repeat, that’s 69 billion they made from customers for just one kind of late fee, in just three months. What do you think of that?

Say: Today, we are going to read an article and then call your family’s bank—or the bank/credit union nearest to your home—and get some information on the late fees associated with it. 

Background Reading & Question Prep (10 min)

Say: Read this quick article and write down five questions that you will ask the bank regarding late or hidden fees. 

Say: Now we are going to share out some questions we would ask a bank about hidden fees. Then we are going to actually call your family’s bank or credit union, or a bank near you, and ask these questions to learn about the bank’s hidden fees. 

Share out some questions students may opt to ask:

    • How do they post debits (purchases) to your account?
    • Does the bank post credits before they post debits?
    • What time do credits (deposits) have to be received by the bank in order to post to your account the same day?
    • Does the bank charge fees every day that your account is overdrawn?
    • Can you link your savings account to your checking account to cover overdrafts? If you can, is there a fee associated with the transaction?
    • Does the bank ever allow an overdraft fee to be waived? 

Distribute bank fees worksheet

Call Time (10 min)

Say: Now we are going to call the banks of our choice and ask them a few questions.

Model calling a bank. Ask the questions on speakerphone so students can hear that real people do this—and it is important. Write down the answers to the questions, and then have students choose a bank of their own—either one they or their family bank with; one they might want to bank with; or a bank that is close to their home. Tell students to ask the same questions and any additional questions of their choice. This can be done in class or as a homework assignment. If there are repeat bank locations, have students work in groups of two, or have them call a bank that they have heard of but that no one is calling, so the class as a whole can gather more data.

Alternatively, you can have students go online to the bank’s website and try to get the information, although it tends to be a lot harder to find.

Share Out (10-15 min)

Say: Let’s go around and share out what we learned about the hidden fees associated with the banks that you called.

Reflection/Exit Ticket (5 min)

Say: On the back or at the bottom of your Bank Fees Worksheet, I want you to answer the following questions: 

    1. What surprised you most about your phone call with the bank?
    2. How does knowing what you know now make you feel about banks?

Share out some responses.