Banks are getting better at figuring out when they have to raise fees, and which customers they can afford to lose.

People who don't bring at least $100,000 to the table in investable assets, loans and deposits will be largely unprofitable to banks once Dodd-Frank financial reform rules are fully phased in, Todd Maclin, head of consumer and business banking at JPMorgan Chase & Co., told investors at an event earlier this month.

This is not necessarily the ethical / moral problem that some consumerists suggest; it's more of a practical dilemma for bank customers.

Consumers have alternatives, so the giant banks don't have all the power in those relationships. After all, what customer wants to be a big profit center for their bank?

Here are some tips, and a short shopping guide for financial customers who are in that less-than-$100,000 category.

Don't bundle big money. Most big financial institutions will give you free checking (and probably a toaster, too) if you take out a $250,000 mortgage or drop $100,000 into an investment account with them. But do you want to? Not if you are overpaying for those big services just to save a few bucks a month on your checking account.

Bundle little money. Many banks require a minimum monthly balance of $2,000 or so for free checking. If you can afford to tie up that much money without getting interest for it, you could probably qualify for free checking and avoid overdraft problems, too.

Seek upstart alternatives. Small community banks are hiring marketing front companies to build online businesses for them: Companies like PerkStreet, SmartyPig and Sim ple.com offer a variety of banking accounts, FDIC-insured, via Web portals.

Use automated investment services. The thinking about how to build a solid retirement portfolio has coalesced around this approach: a mix of stocks and bonds in low-fee funds, rebalanced regularly. And you don't need a high-priced banker or broker to do that for you; a computer can. Some companies that are doing a decent job of managing portfolios on autopilot include FolioInvesting, Marketriders, Betterment (which just dropped its fees) and Wealthfront, which offers free advisory services for accounts of less than $25,000 and charges just 0.25 percent on accounts over that.

Complain, if you want.Of course, banks are supposed to deal fairly and clearly with their customers, and if you feel like you've been wronged, you don't have to just slink away.

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said recently it is accepting consumer complaints about bank accounts at consumerfinance.gov/.

You can file a complaint, print it out and -- ahem -- take that to the bank.

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