When you pick a financial institution to bank with, you want one that makes it easier to be smarter about your money. But if you find yourself continuously dealing with miscellaneous fees and hidden charges, these can whittle away your savings.
Every bank and credit union has fees. Unfortunately, it’s just a fact of life. But, you can find an institution with fewer fees, and that supports your financial goals. ThePennyHoarder.com explains the most common bank fees and how you can prevent them.
Monthly Maintenance Fees
Monthly maintenance fees are the most prevalent type of bank fee. Many financial institutions have these fees for merely having an active bank account. However, online banks often have smaller fees since they don’t have the same operating costs as physical banks. With online banks becoming more popular, traditional banks will have their work cut out to stay competitive. And that means possibly waiving monthly maintenance fees.
Ask your bank or credit union if they have stipulations to avoid these changes, like maintaining a minimum balance, completing a set number of direct deposits each month, or using your debit card so many times. Or, find a financial institution that doesn’t have this fee at all.
Minimum Balance Fees
Not every bank requires its customers to maintain a minimum balance, but the amount can range for those that do. Some accounts, like those meant for people who are new to saving, may only require $5. On the other hand, high-yield accounts may necessitate a larger sum.
If you bank at a financial institution with minimum balance fees, the only way to avoid a charge is to make sure your account never falls below the minimum.
Insufficient Funds And Overdraft Fees
If you spend more money than you have in your checking account, most banks and credit unions will hit you with an overdraft fee. While not every financial institution has these, it’s an essential factor to consider if your account is often on the brink of $0.
Some banks provide overdraft protection, which lets you connect a savings account or a line of credit to pay for the transaction. But this service usually has fees of its own, and it’s often as high as an insufficient funds fee.
The best way to avoid either of these charges is by keeping an eye on your bank accounts, particularly on days you know you will use your debit card or write checks.
ATMs are incredibly convenient, but they can also be a problem. If you only have your debit card, but you happen upon a merchant that only takes cash, you will need to find an ATM to withdraw some money. But if the ATM is outside of your financial institution’s network, you will probably receive a penalty for using that ATM.
Sometimes these fees are unavoidable, but one way to prevent them is preparing ahead of time. Always have a little bit of cash on hand, particularly if you want to visit a new store, restaurant, or plan to attend an event where vendors may only accept cash. Or, you can simply stick with ATMs within your bank’s network.
Paper Statement Fees
Paper, ink, envelopes, postage — it all costs your financial institution money, even if it only amounts to about 0.50 cents per customer per month, according to The Penny Hoarder. But as online banking becomes more prevalent, many banks are switching to paperless statements. If you sign up for online statements, you won’t have to worry about paper statement fees.
Simply sign in to your bank’s website or mobile app, navigate to your settings, and click “e-statements.” If your bank charges you for paper statements, it will eliminate this fee when you opt-out of said statements.
Returned Deposit Fees
It’s bad enough to deal with hefty penalties for insufficient funds or overdrafts. But returned deposit fees only rub salt to the wound. Not only will the bank charge the individual who wrote the bounced check for insufficient funds, but as the recipient, you could also pay a penalty if you cash out that bad check.
To avoid returned deposit fees, only deposit checks from people you know and trust. Also, make sure to maintain a balance to cover the potential cost. If you don’t, you could get hit with an overdraft. If you need to take money from someone you don’t know, use a money transfer app like Venmo.
- Moore, Timothy. “12 Common Bank Fees That Customers Hate – and How to Avoid Them.” The Penny Hoarder, The Penny Hoarder, 5 Sept. 2020, www.thepennyhoarder.com/bank-accounts/bank-fees/?aff_sub2=homepage.