Putting money in the bank always feels satisfying. But how do you decide which bank to put your money in? The first thing to consider when choosing a bank isn’t their rewards program or the quality of their commercials. It’s their fees.
Realistically, whatever bank you use is going to charge fees, but you want to keep as much of your money as possible and not give it to the bank. Look at your bank, are you getting robbed of your money little by little? Researching the type of fees associated with checking or savings accounts will save you money in the long run, because you can choose a bank with the lowest number of fees and avoid triggering circumstances.
Overdraft fees are one of the most common bank fees. Putting your account in overdraft is like writing a bad check. You don’t have enough money to cover the purchase, which puts your account in the negative. The bank then charges you money, anywhere from $10.00 to $38.00, for not having enough money.
Luckily, there are easy solutions. Most obviously, developing better money management and budgeting skills. But because learning a skill takes time, consider setting up a low balance alert. Many banks also offer overdraft protection, meaning they will cover the overdrafted amount. My solution to this problem was to link my checking and my savings, so that in the event of an overdraft, the money is pulled from my savings and I incur no fees. Please note that this can be dangerous and run down your savings if it is not paired with an income-based budget.
If a minimum balance fee applies to your account, it means that as long as you keep a certain amount of money in your checking account it’s free. Which is great until you fall below that amount, at which point you’ll be charged a $12.00 “maintenance fee”. Shop around to find a minimum balance in-line with your needs and financial means. Also, consider direct deposit for your paycheck as this can help keep your account stable.
Do you get paper statements from your bank? If so, you may be charged paper statement fees. Now, these fees aren’t terribly expensive, only about a dollar, but annoying in principle and can certainly add up. The solution? Sign up for paperless billing. You’ll receive bank statements in your email. And if you still want a paper copy for your records, you can print from home.
Returned deposit fees are particularly annoying. Essentially, you try to deposit a check which bounces, and the bank charges you about $20.00-$40.00 or a percentage of the bounced check. There’s no rhyme or reason to avoiding these fees, unfortunately.
Other fees include:
- Foreign transaction fees, which only become an issue if you travel frequently,
- ATM fees, which can be avoided by using your bank ATM or potentially getting cash back on a purchase,
- Stop payment fees, which occur when you need to cancel a check for whatever reason, cost about $30.00-$35.00, and can be waived if you call your bank, and
- Wire transfer fees, which run about $15.00 for incoming and $25.00-$30.00 for outgoing, but online banking can be a viable option to avoid them.
At the end of the day, if the bank you’re looking at has more than a just a few (2-4) fees associated with their accounts, look elsewhere, because no rewards program cancels out dealing with six different kinds of fees.
Written by Mckenzie Candalot, Staff Writer -- Mckenzie Candalot is a recent graduate of the College of Idaho, with a B.A. for English Literature, and is currently working on a Masters in the Art of Teaching. When not studying for classes or blogging, she enjoys reading, walking her dog, and embroidery.