Keeping your money in the bank is a much better option than keeping it under your mattress. Today, banks pride themselves on ensuring your money is safe and offering various customer services. However, as convenient as their services may be, they usually come with additional fees. Staying informed is the consumer’s responsibility and a key component of avoiding unnecessary charges.
Banks are companies; companies stay in business by making money. A bank makes their money off your money. A percentage of their money comes from the fees they charge each customer who has an account with them.
One of the most common banking fees, usually comes in the form of a small charge each month ( $3-$5). However, this charge can add up, especially over a year. Sometimes banks will waive this fee if you agree to maintain a minimum balance – usually you must keep $1000-$5000 in your account.
Does your bank charge an online service fee or convenience fee? Some banks charge you when you use your smartphone, tablet or computer to complete a transaction or upload a check. It’s a small fee, but if you do a lot of online banking it adds up quickly.
One of the largest fees that banks charge is an overdraft fee. This fee occurs when you take out more money than is available in your account. Overdrawing an account usually happens when using a debit card because a debit card is tied to your checking account. Most banks offer overdraft protection, which means the bank “fronts” the money when you over spend – but they charge a fee for that service, and may also charge you interest, depending on how long your account has an outstanding balance. You can opt out of overdraft programs by filling out a special form at your bank or online. If you do, then the bank will not let you make a debit card purchase if you do not have sufficient funds in your account – saving you from any overdraft fee.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) charges are well-known, not-so-hidden banking fees. When you’re in need of cash, you’re able to withdraw money from any ATM. However, if the particular ATM is not part of your banking network, you will most likely be charged a fee by the bank that owns the ATM to take out money. Your bank can also charge a fee on top of the ATM fee. That means double the charge on a single transaction. It is important to understand ATM fees because they can range from $2-$4 per transaction per bank.
There are many other miscellaneous fees banks can charge an account holder. These include fees to make a wire transfer, order additional checks, or even walk in and use the services of a bank teller. A list of common bank fees can be found at badcredit.com. Additionally, if you live or bank in New Jersey, you may want to read this consumer alert which warns residents of banking fees and tells how to obtain a list of charges from their financial institution.
While banks provide some great customer services, it’s up to you, the consumer, to be aware of the fees associated with those conveniences. Read your monthly statement. Get a feel for the financial service fees you are paying. You may not avoid all the fees your bank charges, but you will be a better manager of your hard earned money.
Jonathon Rowles Captain, USMC (Ret.)
Disclaimer: (have to do it) – This blog should not be considered financial, investment, legal or tax advice. Consult your licensed financial professional, tax advisor or legal counsel. This blog is for educational purposes only.