With all of the negative publicity being heaped on banks lately, one of the areas that has been complained about most of all are the senseless fees that banks charge for so many routine services. As the billions of dollars these fees generate for banks have made headlines, some banks are working to build some goodwill by eliminating some of their fees. Still, most banks still have a variety of ways to bleed their customers out of a few dollars here and there and those nickel-and-dime fees can really add up.
Most of the fees banks charge are avoidable with some planning and foresight. The majority of bank fees are charged for convenience or when a transaction has to happen quickly. Consider some of these bank fees and the ways you can avoid them to make sure your money stays in your account.
– ATM Fees: Everyone needs some cash from time to time and ATM machines are one of the most convenient ways to access cash anytime. ATM withdrawals are almost always free at any banking where you already have an account. However, accessing cash from a bank that you don’t have a relationship with is going to cost you and many of these fees are going up. Bank Of America, for instance, recently announced that they will charge a $3.00 fee for any withdrawal from a non-banking customer. Your bank often tacks on a fee of their own if you make a withdrawal through another bank’s ATM machine.
ATM fees are avoidable if you plan ahead and get cash from your bank account or your bank’s ATM machine to avoid the fee. Other ways to help avoid this fee include getting cash back at a grocery store from a debit card purchase or using a smartphone to locate your bank’s ATM machines in your immediate area. Most bank websites also have an ATM locator that can be helpful in avoiding fees.
– Balance Transfer Fees: Consumers with high-interest credit card debt often look for opportunities to transfer this debt to a card with a lower interest rate. This is a great way to save on interest expenses but many banks are now charging between three and five percent on balance transfers. The amount of the fee needs to be factored in to the transfer decision. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to transfer from a 22% credit card to one with an interest rate of 18% if there is a 5% fee to make the transfer. Always read the fine print on any balance transfer.
– Low Balance Fee: Some bank accounts require the account holder to keep a minimum balance in the account in order to avoid paying a fee. Banks don’t highlight this fact when the account is opened and many times customers fail to notice the fee on their statement. These fees are usually between $8 and $10 for every month that the minimum balance was not maintained and they can really add up over time. There are plenty of account types and banks that don’t charge this fee so don’t hesitate to move your money if the minimum balance is not realistic for you. Every dollar that you have to keep tied up in a low-interest account to avoid this fee is a dollar that you could be getting a better return somewhere else.
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