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We've done some research into just how many people have been affected by bank charges - and the findings suggest that many so-called 'free' bank accounts can actually work out quite expensive.

42% of current account holders have been charged by their bank in the past. 57% of those - around 11 million people - have been pushed into an unauthorised overdraft as a result, meaning they incur further expensive charges.

The average amount paid in charges over the last 12 months comes to just under £50, but a third of those charged have paid more than £50, and one in six have paid more than £100 in the last year alone.

The findings will add further fuel to the debate over whether 'free banking' truly is free. Our research indicates that in many cases, it most definitely isn't.

Do you know how much you've been charged?

Worryingly, 5% of people with a current account - around 2.3 million people - actually don't know whether they've been charged or not. A further 3% know they have been charged, but don't know how much.

Most common bank charges:

Charge Paid by % of account holders
Unauthorised overdraft fees 20%  (9,394,172 people)
Unauthorised overdraft daily charges 15%  (7,045,629 people)
Overdraft warning letters from bank 14%  (6,575,920 people)
Bounced direct debits 13%  (6,106,212 people)
Unpaid standing orders 8%  (3,757,669 people)
Other penalty charges 7%  (3,287,960 people)
Bounced cheques 6%  (2,818,252 people)

Ian Williams, head of PR and communications at thinkmoney, said: "Although 58% of those questioned have never paid bank charges, more than four in ten have - and many of those have experienced further problems as a direct result.

"People who have lost lots of money through bank charges should be aware that there are alternatives available - such as the thinkmoney Current Account.

"With the thinkmoney Current Account, you'll never be charged for missed payments or going overdrawn. There is the monthly fee of £14.50 (or £21.25 for joint accounts) for the service and in return, you'll have your own Money Manager who takes care of your finances for you, making sure you always have enough set aside for bills and other essential living costs.

"Many of our customers have told us that knowing exactly how much they're paying has made a huge difference to their finances."

Quick and easy to apply

Apply for a thinkmoney Current Account today.

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