Recently Andrew Bailey - the executive director of the Bank of England - called free banking a 'myth' and suggested that bank accounts which charge a monthly fee up front could make banking charges a lot more transparent.
This is Money has reported that - though there are no official figures - it's estimated that 20% of customers choose to pay a monthly fee for a bank account. There's a lot of choice when it comes to packaged accounts too - and they're offering an increasing number of benefits and flexibility. For example, there are 'build your own' packaged accounts emerging, as well as cash-back accounts and others.
For those who are able to manage their money carefully, and stay 'in credit' at all times, a free bank account is usually actually free. But for those who spend a lot of time 'in the red', fees could really mount up, sometimes meaning people can pay more per month than they would for a packaged account.
Paying for your bank account could also give you a better idea of where your money is going. The thinkbanking account, for example, charges £14.50 each month for a single account, and £21.25 for a joint account. And you won't be charged for unauthorised overdrafts or bounced payments - ever.
For those who find managing their money difficult - or for those who would just rather not have to think about it - the thinkbanking account also includes a Money Manager service. It'll separate your bill money from your spending money in two separate accounts - so you'll never accidentally spend money you've put aside for monthly bills.
If you find yourself struggling to stay in credit each month, and are often hit by unexpected charges, it might be best to look at the fee-charging accounts that are out there. Consider which benefits of a fee-charging account you'll actually use - so you can get your money's worth. Paying a fixed fee each month might be better than never knowing how much you will be charged.