8/29/2011 11:16 AM ET|
10 fees you shouldn’t be paying
Awareness and smart planning will help you avoid these unnecessary charges (and save your money for things you can't get for free, or at least for less).
It's easy to overlook fees when they're just a couple of bucks. But even the small ones quickly add up. However, most of the time you can avoid being nickel and dimed. With the help of BillShrink -- a free cost-savings site -- we created a list of 10 fees you can escape.
1. 'Free' checking fee. Some banks are starting to attach more strings to their free checking accounts. That is, you'll have to pay a monthly fee unless you meet certain criteria. However, several online banks and community banks and some major banks still offer free checking without all the requirements to qualify.
2. Balance-transfer fee. Some credit card companies now charge up to 5% for balance transfers. So before you transfer a balance from one card to another with a low or 0% introductory rate, you should do the math to see if the amount of interest payments that you save with the introductory offer outweighs the balance-transfer fee that has to be paid immediately. You might find that you'll get a better deal by negotiating down the rate on your current card.
3. Retailer credit card fees. New credit card rules make it harder for retailers to extend credit on the spot. However, that doesn't mean you'll no longer hear "Do you want to save 10% on your purchase today by opening a card account with us?" The discount is tempting, but these cards often come with higher interest rates than traditional credit cards. If you don't pay your bill in full, that discount you got will quickly be wiped out by the high rate you'll be paying on your balance.
4. Credit card late fees. Although the new credit card rules prohibit card issuers from charging $25 for a first-time late payment, issuers can charge $35 if you're late a second time within six months. To avoid these fees, sign up for payment alerts from your credit card company. You'll receive an email or text message several days before your bill is due.
5. Rewards card annual fees. An increasing number of rewards cards charge annual fees. However, there are cards with great perks and no fees. BillShrink recommends Capital One No Hassle Miles Rewards, Chase Sapphire Card, and Pen Fed Visa Platinum Cashback Rewards.
6. Directory assistance fees. Calling 411 can cost $1.25 or more. You can get free directory assistance by calling 1-800-BING-411 (Bing is owned by Microsoft, the publisher of MSN Money) or 800-FREE-411 (you'll have to listen to an ad first).
7. Baggage fees. Unless you fly on Southwest or JetBlue, you'll probably pay a fee to check a bag. If you're flying with any of the other airlines and have to check a few bags, you might find it cheaper to send your luggage to your destination by FedEx, UPS or U.S. Postal Service ground shipping.
8. Airline booking fees. Don't even think about picking up the phone to book a flight -- unless you don't mind spending $15 or more for the privilege of talking to a booking agent. Book your flights online to avoid this fee.
9. Cellphone early termination fees. You can face a termination fee of $200 or more if you cancel your service before your contract is up. You can avoid these fees by signing up for prepaid service (and save money because these plans usually are cheaper).
10. Roaming fees. Make sure you understand how your cellphone roaming and international charges work. According to BillShrink, some roaming rates are $2.49 per minute. And, some carriers will even charge you to access your voicemail (a charge of $4.99 for a missed call) even if you don't pick up that call while you are roaming. If you send a video while roaming, you could be charged up to $7.
This article was reported by Cameron Huddleston for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
UPDATE: Don't know if anyone really cares, but we finally met with a SunTrust rep. After a series of ridiculously complicated options, we chose the simplest one: My wife will pay her $5 debit card fee; I will close my personal checking acct (since I will be charged an additional $7 blackmail.....I mean, fee.....a month because I no longer work for a company that offers direct deposit) and move it to my dba acct, which apparently has no fee as long as I keep $1000 in it.
During this discussion of options, our rep told us of a customer who recently lost his job, so several of his family members had parts of their checks direct-deposited into his acct so he wouldn't have to pay that fine.....I mean, fee. Reread that last sentence and just reflect on it for a moment. The man lost his job, so SunTrust is going to take......I mean, charge him an addtional $7 a month because he doesn't have direct deposit........since he just LOST HIS JOB.
My wife and I recently received letters from SunTrust. They will be charging her $5.00 a month. Since I don't, and can't, have direct deposit, I will be charged $7.00 in addition to the $5.00 fee each month. That's $204 a year they are charging us for no reason other than they want to.
I spoke to our local branch and explained to them I'm not paying these fees. I just helped bail your butt out a few years ago, and to show your appreciation, you pull this. That's inexcusable. The branch officer said there were some things we could do; I'm going to give them that chance. However, as inconvenient as it will be (since we've been with them since they were NBC), we will leave if it comes down to it.
In response to the "free" checking fee, I strongly suggest to bank @ a credit union. When you are a member, you have less fees and better rates all around!
Another savings tip about credit unions is that you can get member discounts with other types of services like cellular service and insurance just for being a credit union member!
I also bank with Suntrust and received the fees letter.
The $7.00 fee should be waived since I have direct deposit.
The $5.00 fee is applied if I use my debit card either as a credit or debit.
Since I don't use my debit card anymore in the stores, I didn't think this would be a problem.
The gentleman at the bank was kind enough to remind me to check any online accounts (i.e. Paypal, Amazon, etc.) that I may have set up to withdraw from my account. If I used the card number to set it up, I will get charged the $5.00 fee/mo. if those accounts hit my checking. If I used my check routing and account number, it won't charge me.
To be safe, since I could not recall which accounts were set up in which way, I cancelled my current debit card and Suntrust will send me a new one with new number. This way any online accounts that were linked to my checking using the card number will decline and I can reset them using my check routing and account number.
To send a box that weighs 20 pounds via Priority Mail 600-1000 miles it costs $37.20 each way. When I check a bag, the average weight is around 32 pounds so I would be paying more. For example if I were to ship my clothes, etc to my parents house (Texas to Colorado) I would pay $45.90 sending it Priority Mail. I use Priority Mail as the example because who really wants to send their stuff a week in advance? At least with Priority Mail you're "supposed" to get it in 2-3 days. Even to ship the same box and have it held for me to pick it up I would pay $41.09 plus their "required fees". (At least one of the following extra services must be combined with Hold For Pickup service: Delivery Confirmation, Signature Confirmation, or Insured mail when the mail is insured for more than $200) So to insure said box at a value of $200, you would pay $43.94 EACH WAY. That makes it $87.88 round trip.
Even to send it parcel post with insurance and signature confirmation (because lets face it, who's going to mail their clothes, etc without insuring and requiring a signature) it would cost $27.95 each way.
I have found it to be cheaper to check my bag or pack light and carry the bag on. When I arrive at my destination I purchase the items that I need that are above the 3.4 ounces I was allowed to carry on. Believe it or not, you can do this and save money. My husband and I went to Florida for five days with one carry on total. I brought my "3-3-1" and when we arrived in Florida we purchased sunscreen and body lotion. We needed sunscreen anyway and would have bought it anyway and we were able to find lotion at the store for quite cheap. Even with buying lotion we saved the checked bag fees and came out $30+ ahead.
Also keep in mind that if you have a liquid prescription in the name of one of the travelers, you can carry it on even if it is above the 3.4 ounces. I know there have been "stories" about prescriptions being confiscated but if you travel with a reasonable amount and don't get yourself all in a tizzy from the get-go with TSA you won't have any problems.
So MSN Money please explain to me again how shipping my stuff is cheaper? I have ran the numbers. Whoever wrote the article obviously has not.
Some people here must have forgotten where they live!
I never pay/paid these fees in northern EU, the people are in control there, not the companies and virtually no bank fees, and 98% use debit payment. they only use/have credit cards because they travel to here.!
The cell phone back charges from overseas here are simply outrageous and cell phones relatively expensive even just local here-3-4 times EU, and people there make $ 20 min wage, so it is far cheaper there. Land lines are about 30 % of the price here, and paid only each quarter.
They did learn about the Airline bag charge from here though !
Even on Greyhound (just asked for a quote) the cost is $43.95 and that was for "space available" shipping. How is that cheaper than checking it? Plus you have to go pick up your luggage somewhere which wastes time, uses gas and may include parking fees if it's a downtown location. The test situation I used was going from my local city to Key West, Florida. It would take 1 day, 22 hours and 40 minutes for it to get there so two days then I would have to take a cab to go pick it up and return it unless it happened to coincide with my arrival and honestly, how often is that going to happen?
Seriously people USE YOUR BRAIN. Shipping your luggage is rarely, if ever, cheaper!
A few years ago JC Penney was bought out by someone. My bill date had been the same for years. All of a sudden I saw a late fee on my statement. When I called to find out the lady said I needed to choose a new bill pay date and that I was charged because I hadn't. I was given the option of picking any date. WTH did they charge with me with a late fee for and give me the option of changing a date that was perfectly fine?
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