With more than a third of Americans struggling to pay debts, people need to watch their bank accounts closely for unnecessary charges. Even a handful of bank charges could push a person deeper into debt, making it difficult to recover financially. Follow these 7 essential tips to avoid bank charges and keep the money that belongs to you.
1. Understand What Your Bank Can Charge
The government sets regulations that prevent banks from charging outlandish fees. For instance, banks used to charge overdraft fees for each purchase that exceeded the account balance. If you purchased three things in one day, then you could get charged three overdraft fees. The bank would fund the purchase, but at a steep penalty. Today, banks must give customers the option to opt in or out of overdraft protection.
Despite some regulations, banks still get to charge relatively high fees for simple mistakes and services. Always read the fine print before opening an account. If your bank updates its policies, read the new fee structures so you understand exactly what your bank can charge.
2. Search for Banks Without Unnecessary Charges
Not all banks try to make money out of every transaction. If you’re tired of paying fees for things like ATM withdrawals and talking to a teller, search for banks that don’t charge for those services. There are plenty of options, including credit unions and online banks.
3. Bundle Services to Avoid Bank Fees
Banks want you to use as many services as possible, so they eliminate certain fees for customers who use bundled services. Someone with a checking account might have to pay a small monthly fee. Adding a savings account could lower or eliminate that fee.
Talk to your bank about how bundled services could help you avoid unnecessary fees. If you’re not satisfied with the response, start exploring alternatives with better, cheaper services.
4. Avoid Overdraft Fees by Keeping Enough Money in Your Accounts
Banks usually charge overdraft fees when you spend more money than you have in your account. Keeping a close eye on your checking and saving balances will help you avoid overdraft fees that can cost up to $37.
Banks often charge fees for continuous transfers, so you may want to consider using a money transfer service, like Ria Money Transfer, to avoid these charges. Doing so could help you avoid numerous fees and potentially overdrafting your bank account.
5. Use Online Banking to Avoid Paper Statement Fees
Now that most banks offer online services, members may have to pay extra for paper statements. As long as you have a computer and Internet connection, you can avoid those paper statement fees.
Most banks will let you choose whether you want paper or electronic statements. Ask if you have to pay for paper statements. If you do, consider opting out of that service. You’ll spend less money printing your online statements than having the bank send you paper versions in the mail.
6. Choose an Account With Fewer Charges
Even at the same bank, members may pay different amounts for similar services. You can save money by choosing an option that matches the way you prefer using your account. For instance, if you prefer going inside the bank to talk to a teller, you may have to pay a fee unless your account covers the service. Other accounts may charge for using ATMs.
Find an account that will charge you less for the services you plan to use.
7. Ask the Bank to Waive Fees
Banks want to make extra money by charging fees, but they don’t want to lose long-term customers over piddling amounts. If you receive a charge that you think is unfair, contact the bank to ask about waiving the fee. Many banks will remove the charge from your account to keep your business.
Some research shows that 44 percent of people have convinced their banks to forgive fees. You’re more likely to get a refund by talking to service reps nicely and moving up the chain of command until you find someone authorized to remove the fee.
Since banks want to keep their best customers, long-term members without previous charges may have more success.
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