I’ve been swamped lately and haven’t been able to focus on writing lengthy personal finance articles. So instead, I’m going to focus on one tip for this post:

How to avoid bank fees

I’ve been very fortunate that, until this month, my bank hasn’t charged monthly fees. However, I recently had to switch to a different bank for my savings account since fees were being implemented this month – to the tune of $15! I’m guessing that many big banks will soon be charging monthly fees to make up for the lost merchant fees. Here are a few tips to avoid paying out the nose:

  • Just say “no” to monthly fees – Find a bank that offers programs that waive monthly banking fees. Whether it’s having a credit card or savings account linked to the primary account or by keeping a minimum balance, there’s no point in paying $5 – $15 a month in fees alone. There are plenty of banks out there that offer free checking and savings – you just have to do a little homework.
  • Stop over drafting – Staying on top of your finances is the number one way to avoid overdraft fees. However, if this is challenging, link a credit card or savings account to the primary. You still end up paying something in the end, but it’s usually half or a third the amount.
  • Don’t write hot checks – With most banks switching to electronic scanning of checks, there’s no more “floating” a check for a day or two or three. This just doesn’t work anymore. Make sure the funds are available before you write that check.

Having a budget, balancing your checkbook, and keeping track of your income and expenses are the best methods for keeping your money in your pocket. But if it’s too overwhelming to work on all of these goals, pick one to start with, like not paying anymore fees!

What do you do to keep your banking fees to a minimum?

9 Comments

  1. I created the circumstance to avoid fees. I received a free account because I have direct deposit. Since I opened the account, the bank upgraded my account to a premium account. No fees for debit cards, free travellers checks and free check printing. I earn interest on my balance, but that does not amount to much.

    • @Krantcents – That’s impressive that you’re earning interest and there’s no fees attached. Is that a credit union?

  2. My main account is at a CU and I also have another checking account at a local bank. The 2nd account has no interest, but no fee either. If they start charging, I will definitely close it out.

  3. I read every paper statement, to check and make sure our local bank isn’t stealthily inserting some fees in there. So far, so good.

  4. Kris @ Everyday Tips Reply

    I don’t really have any fees with my credit union, except for shipping when they send me my free checks. I only use the ATM twice a month, and I got 6 free ATM visits, so I do my banking pretty cheaply.

    • @Kris – That’s a pretty good deal. I’ve had to make some changes in my banking habits and switch to a different bank for my savings account. But so far, no monthly fees.

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