If you’re tired of getting nickeled and dimed by your bank, it’s time to switch. Irritation with unnecessary fees is the number one reason consumers switch banks, according to a recent survey by Javelin Strategy and Research.
“Stopping useless fees forever is a smart way to make your money go further,” says J.J. Montanaro, a certified financial planner with USAA. “The savings can add up to hundreds of dollars a year, which can be used to pay your bills instead of your bank.”
To get a grip on what fees your bank is charging, Montanaro suggests carefully reviewing your most recent checking and savings account statement.
If you’re paying these four fees, it’s time to look for a bank that doesn’t charge them.
While the new overdraft rules that went into effect on July 1 require financial institutions to notify customers of their options to opt-in to overdraft fees, finding a bank that chooses to opt out of the “opt-in” legislation can save you cash. Some banks have eliminated overdraft fees on ATM and debit transactions entirely.
However, if you’ve decided to opt in to overdraft fees, you’re not out of luck. Many banks provide overdraft protection — allowing purchases exceeding your account balance to be pulled from your savings account or put on your credit card. Check with your bank to see if this service is free. If so you’ll avoid overdrafts and avoid having your purchase declined.
If you choose a credit card as your back-up payment option, be sure to pay off your balance immediately to avoid paying interest, Montanaro adds.
Unless your bank offers free checks, switch to paying bills electronically. This usually fee-free service allows you to pay bills anytime and anywhere you have access to a secure Internet connection. Plus you’ll save money on stamps and lower your carbon footprint.
Minimum Balance Fees
Your bank may expect you to keep a minimum balance in your account and charge you a fee if you slip below. You can side-step these fees by carefully matching your situation with the account requirements. For instance, look for an account that waives the fee for direct deposit of your paycheck, or find an account with no minimum balance requirement.
“In addition, take advantage of helpful tools such as free online financial management tools and account alerts sent via email or text messages that are triggered when your account runs low,” Montanaro says.
Fine Print Fees
Are you charged a fee for monthly account maintenance, or does that bill you receive in the mail each month cost extra? “It pays to sweat the small stuff and fully understand what your bank is charging you,” Montanaro says. “Instead of paying your bank to send you a paper bill each month, see if you can sign up to receive it electronically for free. This option will save you money and can make it easier to keep track of your statements.”
Montanaro adds that investing time to manage banking needs and find a bank that doesn’t overwhelm you with fees can add up to real savings of potentially hundreds of dollars each year. “In times like these, it’s important to make every dollar count and ensure it’s working for you — not your bank.” ARA CONTENT