Have you ever perused a recent statement to learn that your bank has charged you for some fee you’ve never heard of? It’s a common experience. Most banks don’t explicitly warn you about all the fees they can charge you, and they neglect to give account holders a clear guide to avoiding these penalties. Let’s look at some common frustrating fees and ways to avoid them. This way, when you put money in the bank, it’ll stay there!
Overdraft fees can plague your finances if you don’t keep an eye on your checking balance. Many banks will charge a fee of $15, $25, or even $35 if your account balance falls below a certain fixed amount. It’s an interesting (and infuriating) strategy – when the bank realizes you don’t have enough money, they charge you more money as penalty. Makes a lot of sense, huh? These charges drop your balance even deeper into the red zone. Avoid over-drafting by monitoring your account balance vigilantly. You can do this at ATMs, online, or, if you have a smartphone, with mobile banking apps.
Minimum Balance Fees
Many big banks require that you keep a minimum amount of money in a checking account at all times. For example, you might need to maintain a balance of $1,600 in checking to avoid a fee (usually around $12 or $15). This is a nuisance, especially if you like to keep larger quantities of money in a savings account to gather interest. Call and find out whether a minimum balance fee applies to your account. If so, decide whether you can maintain this minimum balance, or search for a smaller local bank that doesn’t charges these fees.
Monthly Maintenance Charges
Maintenance charges are very vague and very sneaky. They can be charged to your account for a variety of reasons, but there are ways around them. If you see maintenance charges showing up on your statements, contact your bank to see why they were incurred. Preventing these fees may be as simple as maintaining a higher checking balance or making fewer monthly transfers across accounts. If it can’t be remedied by an easy change, you might want to consider opening an account elsewhere.
Returned Deposit Fees
If you deposit a bad check, you may be penalized when it bounces. Find out your bank’s policy on this. If you’re unsure about a check, you can always ask the bank to put a hold on it until it clears – this way, they don’t credit your account before the cashing the check.
These fees always add stress and frustration to your day. The most maddening part is that most banks don’t inform customers when they first open an account. However, whatever the customer service lacks can usually be made up for with a little research and caution. When you’re choosing a new bank, ask about fees and other policies – the smarter you are up front, the more cash stays in your account!