Depending on your specific bank, you might be paying various fees for different types of services and features. These extra fees can especially catch you off-guard if you didn’t even know about them until you received your latest bank statement. Although these charges may be minimal, they can add up, and you might not even notice them until they’ve accumulated. Whether you’re currently in the process of opening your first checking account, switching banks, or just curious about where some of your money goes each month, the following information could be helpful. Some of the common banking fees you might be paying—in addition to ways to cut down on them or avoid them completely—include:
If you need to withdraw cash from an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank, you’ll usually have to pay a small convenience fee. This cost can add up frequently if you do it often. Some banks, however, allow customers to withdraw cash from any ATM they want at no extra charge, up to a certain number of times every month. You can easily avoid these fees by opting for a bank that offers this type of flexibility, or just stick to withdrawing cash only from one of your bank’s ATMs.
Wire transfer fees
If you need to send money to someone quickly, sending a check in the mail just won’t do the job, especially if they live far away. With a wire transfer, you can instantly send money to someone else electronically, but most banks will charge a fee to take advantage of this service. It will depend on your bank and whether you’re sending it to someone domestically or internationally, and may also depend on the amount of your money you’re sending. However, with advances in technology, you can easily cut down or avoid this fee completely with the use of websites that offer similar services, such as PayPal.
If you spend more money than what’s available in your checking account, one of two things will usually happen: the transaction will be declined, or it will go through, but you will charged an overdraft fee. If you have the option, avoid these fees by ensuring your transactions are instead declined if you have insufficient funds. If you have a tendency to overdraft often, this can save you a lot of money each month.
Some bank accounts might implement a small monthly fee each month for customers just to simply have a checking account open. However, there are others that are completely free, so if you are paying a monthly maintenance fee, you might want to shop around for other options. Oftentimes, you can avoid this monthly fee by ensuring your checking account has the minimum required balance set in place by your bank.
Foreign transaction fees
If you’re using your debit card overseas, there’s a good chance you’ll incur a foreign transaction fee, unless your bank specifically stated otherwise. This can be a flat fee or a percentage of your purchase. You can avoid this fee by not using your debit card much, and instead, using a credit card that doesn’t impose foreign transaction fees.
Paper statement fees
Did you know that you might be paying for those paper statements that you receive in the mail every month? It may not be much, but it can add up month after month. If you just toss them straight to trash anyway because you do all of your banking online, you may want to opt out of monthly statements. If you haven’t been doing your banking online, you might want to consider the benefits of stopping paper statements and just viewing them online, which won’t cost you anything. Not only is this eco-friendly, but you could save money as well.
Returned check fees
If you ever cash a check that bounces, you not only risk overdrafting your account, but your bank will usually charge you a returned deposit fee. If someone pays you with a bad check, you could request that they pay you the returned deposit fee. If you own a business, for example, you might want to state in your payment terms that any customers will be charged returned deposit fees if their checks bounce. Additionally, you could avoid the hassle and these potential fees completely by only accepting credit cards, cashier’s checks, cash, or money orders.
Extra checks and deposit slips
You might receive some personal checks and deposit slips with your account information when you first enroll and at no extra charge, but when it’s time to order more, you’ll usually need to pay for them. Avoid paying for additional checks by using them very sparingly. These days, most bills can be paid for online, and you can use a debit card, credit card, or cash for your other purchases. And while those customized deposit slips can be pretty convenient, avoid paying extra to order more by just filling out a blank deposit inside your bank’s branch. It involves a little extra work, but if you make a lot of deposits, it could be worth saving the money. You could also potentially avoid manually depositing checks completely by opting for direct deposit whenever available.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.