Ways to Save on Bank Fees

You may be aware how much you are paying for banking – bounced check fees, ATM fees, checking account fees, and so on. These may not seem like serious expenses to you, but they accumulate, and this is money you can put in your pocket.

To begin with, it does not make sense to pay a checking account fee in order to use your money. If your bank asks such a fee, you may want to look for another financial establishment that offers no-fee checking. Many banks feature this if you keep a minimum combined balance in a checking and savings account or a balance in your savings account.

Your bank of choice should fit your financial habits. For example, if you are a person who dips below the minimum balance all the time, it is not a good idea to go with no-fee checking. If you do, you can incur a fee in case you fail to maintain the minimum balance.

There are ways to save on ATM fees as well. It is best to open a checking account at a financial institution that has local branches near your work or home as well as a large network of ATMs. Make sure the ATMs you use do not charge you fees, and you do not pay out-of-network transaction fees.

Surprisingly, another way to save on bank fees is to open an account at smaller, regional financial institutions – credit unions and banks – which often feature fee-free transaction accounts or lower fees as a way of attracting the clients of big banks. Opting for a credit union or bank with a smaller number of branches is not much of an inconvenience today. This is true for banks and credit unions that offer (and many of them offer) internet and phone banking. You may want to pay your bills using their telephone and online banking because it will cost you less than using an ATM. The service may be even offered at no added cost. In addition, some banks are willing to offer fee waivers on all accounts you maintain if you consolidate your banking or have a mortgage with them. Some banks also offer fee-free accounts to pensioners, students, and children.

One option is to use ATMs of your bank only, as you won’t be charged any fees with most establishments. Even better, you may plan ahead and calculate how much money you will need. Visit your local branch and take out money so that you do not have to withdraw from an ATM or at least not as often.

To save on fees, a wise thing to do is to know what is coming out and what is going in your account. This means that you have to keep track of transactions. There are two fees to watch for, which will cost you more. One is the overdraft fee, and the other is the non-sufficient funds fee. Pay close attention and check the activity in your account on a monthly basis.

This one should be obvious, but many people ignore their monthly statements. Banks use statements to inform clients of changes in fees, new charges, and other important information. The same goes for the fine print, which explains what, when, and why you will be charged.

Finally, those who keep a high balance in an interest-bearing account may want to keep it in a financial institution using the average daily balance method. This method is used to calculate interest and your minimum balance. With it, if you happen to fall below the minimum balance, it is less likely that the bank will impose a fee. This is provided that during the entire month, your average daily balance stays above the minimum. You benefit from this, because you may earn interest on your savings. There are other methods to calculate interest, and these may be quite costly. This is money that would have gone to your account if the first method was used.