A bank account is something that every adult needs. In fact, every person past their childhood years can benefit from bank accounts since the alternative is sticking the money they earn in the mattress or in a shoebox in the closet.
However, banks are institutions that require money to stay in business, and in some cases, it earns money with maintenance charges/fees. While some of these fees are avoidable if you’re financially savvy, there are others that you may not be able to get around, even if you are wise with your money.
If you’re tired of paying bank fees that don’t do anything good for you, use this guide to help you stop! You’ll have more money in your pocket – or bank account – and you won’t feel like you’re wasting quite as much of your hard earned cash.
Switch to Free Checking
If you’ve been with the same bank for years and years there’s a good chance you pay a small fee for your checking account. Why? Because that’s just how it was when you signed up! You paid a small maintenance fee to have somebody else hold your money for you.
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Today, everything is a little different since so many banks and credit unions are competing for the same business. Even if you pay a fee for your checking account now, you can likely talk to somebody on the phone or in your branch and switch over to a free checking account.
Banks that don’t want you to switch to a free checking account may require a little nudge in the right direction. Nobody wants to lose a customer, because that means you’ll take all of your funds with you, so sometimes simply saying you’re switching to a competitor’s bank, if they don’t drop the fees is enough.
Consider a Credit Union
Some banks don’t offer free accounts, and if yours is one of them, you may decide to switch for good. When looking for a new bank, you may want to avoid the big names altogether and go with a credit union.
The reasons so many people join credit unions are relatively simple. They’re smaller organizations that allow more one-on-one access for customers and they tend to charge less money for the same services that banks offer.
Credit unions are also more likely to work with individuals who have poor credit to help them build that credit back up. It’s in their best interest to do so, as many credit unions are non-profit organizations designed to keep their users in good financial health.
Look for a credit union that offers free checking if you’re going to make the switch. Many do offer it these days, and there’s no reason to pay for a very basic service anymore.
Take Advantage of Rewards
Not all of the fees banks charge are just for having accounts. The biggest fees for many people are ones like ATM fees, and these can easily be $2 or $3 per withdrawal.
An ideal way to counteract these fees is to find a checking account with a bank that allows for cash back rewards or covers your ATM fees. Sometimes debit card rewards can be enough to make these fees nonexistent.
Be Careful with Money
The last way you can avoid useless fees is to simply be smarter with your money. In many cases, the worst fees that individuals are charged by their bank are overdraft charges and returned check fees. Buying a bottle of water or lunch when you don’t have enough cash in your account can result in getting hit with a fee that is easily over $25.
One way to prevent this situation is to have a checking account linked with a savings account – sometimes referred to as overdraft protection. That way the money you spend – even if you don’t have enough in your checking – can be deducted without paying a penalty on your part.
Another option still is to simply get in the habit of checking your balance regularly. If you do it each day you’ll know how much you have in your account and how much you can spend without incurring penalties.
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