Freedom From Fees

Common banking fees and how to avoid them

According to US News, the average American adult spent $329 on banking fees in 2017. Seem a bit high to you? While inflation is partly to blame, the main reason you’re shelling out cash for banking services is you haven’t taken the time to jump through the hoops. One easy way to avoid high fees is to take a look at a credit union or smaller community bank, which often charge less in fees. Beyond making a switch, you need to be aware of the process required to avoid extra charges, then take action. Here are some of the most common banking fees and how to avoid them.

  • Overdraft fees. Banks hit you with an overdraft fee when you attempt to spend more than your account balance. The fees vary widely, from $15 to as much as $37. The best strategy to avoid this charge is to opt out of overdraft protection. Once you do, charges that overdraw your account will be declined. Many banks and credit unions also offer text or email alerts when an account goes below a specified balance.
  • ATM fees. Banks often charge you a fee to withdraw money from an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank or that’s not in its network. It’s usually only a couple dollars each time, but if you regularly take out cash, those charges add up. Avoid the charges by only using your institution’s ATM or even getting cash back when using your debit card.
  • Paper billing fees. One of the most ridiculous charges is the one for getting your statement mailed to you. Bank of America, one of the biggest banks in the nation, charges its customers $5 for printed bills/statements. Get rid of this fee by signing up for emailed statements. It’s as simple as that.
  • Monthly service fees. Banks often charge a monthly fee just to use their services. At Chase, consumers are charged $12 a month for a basic checking account and $25 for a “premier plus” checking account. A couple ways to avoid this charge: Connect direct deposit to the account and maintain a minimum bank-specified balance.
  • Chris O'Shea

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