By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia area now leads the nation in one of the most unpopular fees that ATM users pay.

If you do business with a Philadelphia area bank and you overdraw your account at the automated teller machine, you’re now paying the highest overdraft fees in the country.

A report produced by Bankrate.com finds the average overdraft fee in Philadelphia is now $35.20.

Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst Greg McBride says Philly fees exceed New York, Baltimore and even Milwaukee.

“Banks tend to move like a school of fish in some respects with regard to punitive type fees and when the bar gets raised, when somebody plants a flag at a higher fee level, the others quickly follow,” McBride said. “There’s really a tight cluster of overdraft fees among the biggest players in town and they’re all at above-average levels.”

McBride says the best way to avoid the fees is to link your checking and savings accounts so that if you run short on the checking side, the money you’re tapping is your money and not the bank’s.

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