Home Money Ways Consumers Can Avoid or Minimize Bank Fees

Ways Consumers Can Avoid or Minimize Bank Fees

by Bruce Haring

There is no doubt that bank fees are becoming costlier and are getting exceedingly difficult to evade. Fees for checking accounts have risen to 8.36% over a span of three years. Surprisingly it is twice the inflation rate.

A wide range of fees are included in bank fees that includes overdraft fees, maintenance fees, check-return fees, fees for online transactions like bill pay, wire transfers, money orders, mailed statement-delivery, accessing old statements online, and downloading financial information into programs like Quicken. If you want copies of checks that were cancelled you are charged for that too. Banks also often take bad address fees and charge an account fee on dormant accounts.

In addition, fees are becoming more and more expensive and when you open an account you seldom have an idea about the fees you are expected to pay. Many banks disclose part of the fees while others divulge nothing at all. Studies have also found that bigger banks offer better clarity with regard to the fees than online banks and credit unions. But credit unions are far less expensive and larger banks and with credit unions, you pay very little in fees if any at all.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which protects customer rights has advocated that banks must have a disclosure policy similar to the Schumer Box which is applied to credit cards. Such a policy has been adopted by 30 banks which includes 12 of the largest ones.

Select savings accounts that charge no-fee for checking

Try to search online for a savings account that will offer free checking. Such accounts are not hard to find but you have to agree to certain conditions. You may have to maintain a minimum balance, hold multiple accounts in the same bank, and agree to get your paychecks directly deposited and electronic statements.

Simply say no to overdraft protection

You can avoid overdraft fees by opting out of overdraft protection. This means that if you do not have money in your account the bank will not issue you an overdraft and you will not be charged any excess overdraft fees. You just have to ensure that you have enough money in your account. Since 2010 opting out has been made by default through a change in the law. But banks often make the protection part of mandatory customer service.

Utilize Alerts

If you sign up for these alerts banks will send you a message as soon as your account balance dips below the minimum level.

Never use ATMs that are out of network

Do not draw cash from the first ATM that you come across when you need money urgently. You can be charged by the ATM network as well as by your bank. Instead you can use apps to locate an ATM which belongs to your bank in the vicinity (but gas cost money too – you have to weigh this thought out). Remember, you can also use your ATM card to do grocery shopping and other purchases and get cash back. This means the latter option is a better alternative than withdrawing cash from an out of network ATM.

You can obtain cash for free when buying some orange juice or a loaf of bread, for example.

Check out accounts that are for students and older people

If you are a student or if you are above 50 then you can choose banks that offer special accounts and privileges for these categories of citizens. Your minimum balance requirement might be lower than it is for regular customers.

Keep cash in your checking account

Traditionally people stash their excess cash in savings accounts but these accounts sometimes attract monthly fees. Moreover interest rates have dipped over the past few years. This same experts believe that it might not be a bad idea to move some of the cash into the checking account.

Find accounts that correlate well with your lifestyle

Many customers use ATMs frequently while there are others who use online banking services. Lifestyles vary and so you must pick an account that goes well with your lifestyle. This way you can avoid unnecessary services for which you may have to pay fees.

Try negotiating

Bank managers are often given the power to waive fees. This means you can use certain strategies with the manager to have some bank fees waived. These however work best if you have multiple accounts or a huge balance. You can tell the manager that you will close your accounts if certain fees are not waived in a cordial manner of course. Negotiate politely and quietly.

Check your accounts online periodically

You can keep track of your debit card transactions, get alerted when your balance is low, become aware of fraudulent transactions, and so on if you want to possibly save some money on your banking finances.


You may also like