How to avoid these 6 common bank fees

Man reading about how to avoid bank fees
October 21, 2021 | Katie Levene

If you feel like you’re having to bust some acrobatic moves to dodge bank fees each month, you’re not alone. According to GOBanking Rates, the average American pays $7 a month in banking fees.

There are half a dozen fees that many Americans wind up paying that are avoidable. With the right amount of research, you can find a checking or savings account that won’t charge you for a low balance or mistake. Check out these tips on how to avoid bank fees.

Utilize checking and savings accounts without account maintenance fees

Also known as the monthly maintenance fee, this type of fee could be up to $15 per month! An account maintenance fee is a fee charged by a bank or credit union to a customer who does not meet certain requirements such as an average daily balance, monthly transaction threshold or direct deposit.

You may meet these requirements today but a day could come when you start to get charged. There are plenty of accounts that don’t charge account maintenance fees. All it takes is a quick online search for your best options.

Sign up for eStatements

Losing the paper statement is green in more than one way. You get to save a tree or two and some cash. Almost all bank accounts give you the option between eStatements or paper statements. Some charge you a fee for each paper statement.

Avoiding this fee is rather easy. Log on to your online banking to make the change or give your bank or credit union a call. This quick action will save you a few dollars a year.

Avoid accounts with minimum balance fees

Similar to monthly maintenance fees, a minimum balance fee is a monthly fee charged to a customer who has a low balance on a bank account. The fee amount varies but it’s not uncommon to see banks or credit unions charging $10 or more for a low balance on a checking account.

Avoid these fees by either maintaining a minimum balance or switching to a bank account that won’t charge them. You never know. You may have a few months of overwhelming expenses or a financial emergency may come up, leading to a low balance. You shouldn’t be penalized for putting your money to work.

Take advantage of ATM fee rebates and a large ATM network

Have you ever found yourself in a cash-only spot with an empty wallet? Oftentimes, the ATM on-premise comes with an ATM fee. But what can you do? You can use a checking account and debit card that offers ATM fee rebates!

Many online banks are adopting this rebate service to help customers in this type of situation. It’s a win-win for these banks and credit unions. The credit union or bank does not need to pay for the costly maintenance of their own ATM network and you don’t have to worry about ATM fees.

You can also look for banks and credit unions with a large ATM network. It might require some searching on your part but when there are ATMs every six blocks or so, you can avoid a fee by going for a quick walk.

Learn about your overdraft fee and insufficient fund fee options

An overdraft happens when you have a charge for an amount higher than your account balance. For example, if you have $3,000 in your checking and you pay your mortgage at $3,500, you overdrew your account by $500.

Overdraft protection is helpful because the transaction isn’t denied. You still paid your mortgage but you will most likely be charged a fee for the overdraft. Banks will charge up to $35 for each transaction that puts your account into the negative. Woah!

More and more banks and credit unions are either removing this fee entirely or providing services that will help you avoid a fee. You have options. Pick a checking account that will offer you an overdraft option but won’t charge you an overdraft fee.

Sign up for alerts

If your account has any of the service fees we mentioned, sign up for text or email alerts. You can usually set a balance or activity threshold in your online banking. When you create an alert, you can be notified when you’re going below a minimum balance or into the negative on your account. It won’t prevent a fee but it could help you readjust your spending or signal that you need to transfer money.

If you have your accounts at some big, traditional brick-and-mortar banks, you’re likely subject to any of these fees. Do some research and find an online bank or an NCUA Insured online credit union. Online banks and credit unions are more likely to offer great checking and savings accounts without the common fees.

Learn more about checking and savings accounts:

Katie Levene is a marketer fascinated with finance. Whether the topic is about the psychology of money, investment strategies or simply how to spend better, Katie enjoys diving in and sharing all the details with family, friends and Money Mentor readers. Money management needs to be simplified and Katie hopes she accomplishes that for our readers. The saying goes, "Knowledge is Power", and she hopes you feel empowered after reading Money Mentor.

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