Keep More of your Money: Tips to Avoid Bank Fees

Last week we talked about the 7 Bank Fees Eating your Checking Account. We also reviewed the startling stat that the top 3 U.S. banks made $1 billion in just overdraft fees during 2014!  That post stirred great discussion about the hatred of banks and how to avoid bank fees – without keeping your money under your mattress.  In this post, we will take a deeper dive into avoiding bank fees.

Banks make $1 billion+ off of fees! Use these tips to avoid bank fees from eating up your account!

Check your Statement for Bank Fees

Find your most recent bank statements.  If you don’t have a physical copy of your bank statement, access your account online and check your transaction history for the last few months.

  • Do you notice any bank fees?
  • If so, what are the fees?

Give your bank a call to see if they will (1) waive the fees that have previously hit your account and (2) ask if they have an account that will avoid bank fees altogether.

Find a Bank that Works For You

If your existing bank is not able to work with you on refunding fees, it’s time to consider choosing a new bank!  I love love love my checking account with PNC. First of all, due to my automatic deposit, I do not incur any monthly maintenance fees. In addition, I am allowed free use of 4 non-PNC bank ATMs throughout the month. Although I rarely go to the ATM, this gives me the flexibility and freedom to go to the ATM that is more convenient for me.

Figure out what is most important to you as no bank is perfect.

  • Do you prefer to have ATM fees refunded?
  • Do you need an account without monthly maintenance fees?
  • Do you need free checks?
  • Do you prefer for the bank to give you to before charging an overdraft fee?

Change Habits that May Cause Fees

At the end of the day, certain bank fees (overdraft, ATM) relate to financial responsibility.

  • What is causing you to overdraft?  Are you keeping track of all your financial responsibilities prior to swiping your card?
  • Why do you visit ATM’s where a fee is imposed?  Do you need to plan better to visit your banks ATM?  Do you need to keep some money in a more conveniently located bank?
  • Did the bank send you a letter that their account minimum requirements have changed which has led to monthly maintenance fees?

Really think about what habits you can change.  Planning in advance can help you avoid overdraft and ATM fees.

 

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Keep More of your Money-Tips to Avoid Bank Fees

Have you proactively taken any steps to avoid bank fees?  Do you have any advice for others?

22 comments

  1. Ugh bank fees are the devil! Haha. I have definitely had my fair share of overdraft fees but I’ve been doing a pretty good job at trying my best to avoid the fees!

  2. Thanks for this post. It is such a reminder that I have to be proactive to protect my own financial well-being. I have to admit that I have been guilty of using whichever ATM is closest and that has eaten away at my funds over time. I noticed it especially when I was ttraveling.I need to figure out what my best options are both locally and internationally ahead of time.

  3. Great points. I’ve never considered some of your points. Honestly, I don’t pay much attention to the fees at all. I need to see if my current bank is what’s best for my finances!

  4. Not too long ago I went through and unsubscribed to any recurring monthly charges (except my Netflix and Apple Music of course). I do not like giving my money away at all! Those ATM fees definitely add up but I bank with my credit union, like they say you pay for convenience

    1. Great way to cut down on expenses. Believe it or not, I cut Apple Music and Netflix from my budget too! Along with a lot of other recurring expenses.

  5. I am anti bank fees, I’ve found a good home at the credit union. Not only do I have no fees I also get a dividend deposited into my account.

  6. bank fees are awful. I haven’t dealt with fees in a long time but there is nothing worse than giving away unnecessary money!

  7. I bank with TD and was getting charged a fee for not having enough money in my account for months! The only reason why I found out is because I called the customer service line to resolve another issue and the representative told me that I was being charged. I am a poor college student and was under the interpretation that both of my bank accounts were consider student accounts. Well I was wrong! The customer service representative immediately change my second account to a student account as well. I also only ever use a TD Bank ATMs or else they will charge you $3 to get your own money.

    1. Wow! Crazy that you were being charged a fee and didn’t even notice. I miss the days of college accounts! There are great benefits for college students since banks want you to be a life long customer.

  8. Great advice! Planning and budgeting will eliminate a lot of bank fees. Banks should be ashamed of themselves with the foolishness they commit to get an extra bank fee. My credit union didn’t call me when an automated payment didn’t process so they could get the late fee. Needless to say they got a piece of my mind (lol).

  9. I hate bank fees with a passion and am very careful to not put myself in a position to get them. Just shows that it is important to have an understanding of how fees are charged and what you can do to avoid them. Great post!

  10. Thanks for this post. When I started saving I did what I had to do so that I wouldn’t be charged bank fees. Those things can definitely add up!

  11. Bank fees are so unnerving! I try to avoid them at all costs, but sometimes, sh*t happens lol! I am loving my credit union right now!

  12. Most of the time my fees come when I forget about something that is automatically withdrawn and my account is low. It’s an icky cycle of gross. Luckily I don’t overdraft a lot. I usually just call my bank and explain and sometimes they will waive, and other times they will let me know what I need to do. I am sad though, because previously my bank would allow you to skip overdraft fees if the overdraft was less than $5, and now they don’t. As I usually only overdrafted around that amount I think the new rule is quite unfair. I take overdraft protection off my card, because I’d rather be embarrassed in a store than pay later to get my card back in the positive, but on the other hand, doing that doesn’t stop me from overdrafting if I have already promised the money to a company.

  13. I lived fee-free for years because my job had a deal with my band and for years after I left that job (because I got lucky). But now! Pains my face to get a monthly checking fee.

  14. My fiance and I are going over banks now. We are choosing one with free checks and interest.
    I think most fees are avoidable because they are due to over-drafting.
    I never noticed any strange fees in any of my statements.
    My first employer had a deal with Citibank that included free checking because we did direct-deposit.

    1. There are so many great benefits if your bank has a deal with employers. Good luck finding a bank that works best for you both!

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