Fees and banks seem to go hand in hand, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Understanding the fine print at your bank will help you choose the best bank and allow you to avoid unwanted fees.
One of the challenges we often face when using financial products is not understanding the fine print, so we’ll start by breaking down typical bank fees and follow up with some ideas on ways to avoid them.
Bank Fees to Look For
Checking account fees: To start make sure you understand what kind of fees are associated with having a checking account. In many cases a bank will charge a fee if your balance is under a certain amount or charge you a fee if you don’t have direct deposit set up. Be sure to read the fine print on your ‘free’ checking account. These fees vary.
How to avoid: Be sure to be clear on what fees are associated with your account and how you can avoid them.
Savings account fees: Like checking accounts you may find that your savings account has a fee for a minimum balance or a fee if you transfer funds out of it too often.
How to avoid: Read up on the fees for the savings accounts offered at your bank and track your transfers to ensure you don’t go over any limits.
ATM fees: Getting cash out of an ATM can cost you! Banks might charge you to use their ATM if you aren’t a customer and you may be charged double! Your bank and the ATM bank may both charge you a fee!
How to avoid: Use your bank’s ATM or ones that are supported by your bank’s ATM network. Consider a bank that refunds ATM fees for when you’re in a pinch.
Overdraft fees: Overdraft fees can add up fast! Be sure to understand how and why your bank charges overdraft fees.
How to avoid: Refuse overdraft coverage or set up an overdraft protection where a line of credit or a savings account will cover any overdrafts. Just be sure to also check fees for overdraft coverage.
Paper statement fees: Some banks charge a fee for receiving a paper statement.
How to avoid: Set up online statements or look for a bank that doesn’t charge a statement fee.
Teller fees: Some banks will charge you a fee for talking to a person! These are called teller fees.
How to avoid: Bank online instead.
Debit card fees: Debit cards make accessing your money easy, but some banks charge you to use debit card or charge a fee after a certain number of transactions.
How to avoid: Remember you can use your debit card as a ‘credit card’ at checkout to avoid these fees.
How to limit your fees:
The good news is once you know what fees to look for you can figure out ways to avoid fees.
- Shop around for a bank. Look for a bank that doesn’t charge fees on the services you use most. Every bank has a schedule of fees so be sure to compare fees between banks and look for one that fits your needs the best.
- Avoid overdraft fees by refusing overdraft coverage. This means your debit card will get declined. Just remember that ACH payments (automatic payments) will still go through and budget accordingly.
- Pay attention to your statements. Check monthly statements to ensure you aren’t charged any fees.
Ask to reverse fees. If you are charged a fee discuss it with your bank to see if they will reverse it.
Consider an online checking account with Radius Bank which offers no minimum balance fees, free ATMs worldwide on personal checking accounts, and doesn’t tack on a lot of the fees that other banks do.