Deciding on a bank ranks right up there with choosing your first born child’s name, well maybe not but it is super important nonetheless. There are plenty of options making it all the more confusing with the new wave of online banks on top of the brick-and-mortar banks. Finding that special one you trust enough to place your dollars in, and hopefully watch grow, can be overwhelming. With the laundry list of fees that most of us have gotten used to, finding a bank that will not nickel and dime all of your money away seems next to impossible. However, there are ways to avoid feeling like you’ve been robbed blind by your own bank. Here’s how you can steer clear of those annoying little fees that seem to creep up out of nowhere. Follow these tips to make sure all of your money stays where it belongs–in your account.
Most banks have a monthly charge or maintenance fee just for having an account. You read that right. You could be using your account, handling your normal business, check your account one day and see a subtraction line labeled ‘maintenance fee.’ Not fun!
Ways to avoid it:
- Stay above the minimum. Not to worry though because you can easily avoid being hit with this fee by making sure your account balance never drops below the minimum set by the bank.
- Set up direct deposit. Getting your payroll check directly deposited to your account could also keep you from forking over between $7 to $15 a month.
We have all been there. You are in a rush and you need cash immediately so you stop at the nearest ATM, the catch is that it is not affiliated with your bank in any way and you will pay as much as $4 to withdraw YOUR money. It sounds like chump change but, over time those ATM fees can add up, taking away from what you could be putting towards savings, a trip, or a bill.
Ways to avoid it:
- ATM locator app. Look to see if your bank has an ATM locator app to help you find the nearest ATM that will not charge you a fee.
- Plan ahead. Withdrawing a set amount of money from your bank when you get paid is a great way to keep cash around for when you absolutely need it.
Those overdraft fees are probably the worst offenders of them all. At an average of $35 a pop, one or more transactions hitting your too low balance can wreak havoc quickly on your account and your nerves.
Ways to avoid it:
- Sign up for email or text alerts. First, before you go swiping away, sign up for email or text alerts that will alert you when your balance is below a certain amount.
- Opt out of automatic overdraft. There is a little known fact that you can inform your bank that you do not want automatic overdraft. This is when the bank allows a transaction to go through even when you do not have the funds to cover it, leaving you with a negative balance that includes the overdraft fee. Opting out will give the bank permission to decline any purchases that go above the amount of funds available.
- Sign up for overdraft protection. For a fee of about $15 at most banks, you can have your checking and savings account linked and when a purchase is being made, if more funds are needed the amount is simply transferred from one account to another.
- Find the right bank. Another way to avoid these fees is to find a bank that will not charge them, period! Banks like Green Dot, offer incentives like no overdraft or fees at all. It’s like finding a diamond in the rough but, it exists!
Savings Accounts Transfers Fees
Currently, there is a rule set by the Federal Reserve Board that limits the number of transfers from a savings account to six per month. Exceeding this amount can result in a variety of consequences, from being charged a fee between $2 and $15, to the bank closing the account, changing it to a checking account, or declining the transfer altogether.
Ways to avoid it:
- Head to an ATM or bank. If life happens and you must make another transfer but are teetering close to the edge of reaching that limit, go to an ATM or bank to make the transfer instead.
- Avoid the temptation to make petty transfers. Starbucks runs and hitting up this week’s one-day sale are probably not life or death emergencies. Make it a habit to do transfers only when absolutely necessary, for bigger amounts.
- Set up your payments to come out of your checking account. Arrange for and automatic bill payments to come out of your checking account instead of savings.
- Whatever you do, don’t go over. If your checking account has overdraft protection linked to a savings account, try to avoid overdrafts, which are also counted towards your six transfer limit.
- Get tipped off. Sign up to be alerted when your checking account reaches a low balance and slow down on spending to avoid triggering automatic transfers from your savings to checking account.
If you have paid even one of the above fees these year, make today the last day that you fork that fee over. There are just four more months in the year and it is not too late to make some financial moves in 2019! Don’t let frivolous fees stand in your way.
For more information on opening an Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account with Green Dot head over to www.greendot.com.
Written by our contributor, Candice Davie