7/15/2011 7:26 PM ET|
How to beat annoying bank fees
Unwanted banking charges can appear when you don't expect them, such as ATM balance-inquiry fees or fees for talking to a human. Know what they are and how to avoid them.
Two bank fees get a lot of attention: monthly maintenance charges and ATM fees.
Those charges are pretty easy to avoid, however, by changing your behavior or changing banks. The fees that are really pesky are the ones you don't think to ask about. They often show up unexpectedly and may be tough to shake.
Here are a few to watch out for:
Checks you deposit in your account can bounce, and if they do, all you-know-what can break loose. You may face overdraft charges or rejected transactions because you don't have enough money in your account. In addition, your bank may clip you with a $10 to $20 fee for depositing the bad check.
How to cope: There's typically no way for you to know if a check is good before you deposit it, so this is a "gotcha" that can be avoided only in advance -- by banking with an institution that doesn't charge the fee. Most big banks levy returned-deposit charges, but some smaller banks and many credit unions don't. Switching to one that doesn't charge may make sense if you deposit a lot of checks. If you're charged a returned-deposit fee, ask your bank to waive the fee as a one-time courtesy. Your bank may not budge, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Another option: Cash a check at the issuing bank. But this could trigger a fee, since you're not a customer, and might be inconvenient.
Fees for 'early' account closures
Want to close your account because of excessive fees? Not so fast. Shut a bank account within a few months of opening it and your bank might withhold $10 to $50 from your balance as a so-called early-closure fee. Citibank, Chase, PNC and Wachovia each charge $25. If you were given a bonus or other rewards for opening the account, the bank may try to "claw back" those benefits by charging even more, warns U.S. PIRG, a consumer advocacy group that issued a report last year on bank fees.
How to cope: Before you open an account, ask if there's an early-closure fee and, if so, how many months the account must be active before the fee is waived. Balance the fees you'll pay by sticking with the account against what you'd pay to leave early.
Fees for returned mail
Say you move but forget to update your mailing address with your financial institutions. Banks and creditors typically have "return service requested" printed on their envelopes, which means your statements and other information are returned to them rather than forwarded to your new address. Your bank may ding you $5 each time this happens.
How to cope: "Put your financial institutions at the top of the list of those you notify when moving," said Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com.
ATM balance-inquiry fees
Prepaid cards come loaded with so many egregious fees that it's hard to pick just one. You get dinged for "activating" your card ($3 to $9.95), having the card (monthly charges of $2.95 to $9.95), using the card (per-transaction fees of $1 to $2) and reloading the card ($3 to $10).
Still, NerdWallet CEO Tim Chen nominates the ATM balance-inquiry charge as particularly pesky, since checking a bank or gift card balance typically doesn't cost the user money.
"Nearly all reloadable prepaid debit cards have this fee, which typically ranges from 50 cents to $2 per incident," Chen said. "Note that you are charged for inquiring about your balance, even if you don't make a withdrawal."
How to cope: You typically can check your balance for free online. Using the toll-free number to inquire may or may not trigger another fee. Better yet, consider opening a free checking account at a local bank or credit union. Over time, a low-cost checking account will be cheaper than using prepaid cards to manage your spending.
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Add my voice to the chorus singing the praises of credit unions.
I had a checking account with Bank of America for nearly 40 years. Last year, they started debiting a fee each month so I closed the account. There was not so much as a thank you. So much for loyalty!
I closed all bank accounts and dealings with banks several years ago....
Like others said, use a Credit Union...
Echo as well. SWITCH TO A CREDIT UNION. I am leaving Bank of Fees, not because they have done anything seriously wrong to me (yet). But, because of how much more I can make at my local Credit union. Just on interest in my new checking and savings accounts, the interest I will make there in TWO MONTHS will be a little more than what I made at Bank of UnAmerica in an entire YEAR.
Try to get THIS at Bank of <whatever>, Chase, Wells Fargo, etc...
*Refinance Auto Loan: 4.49% for 60 months. Get a "rebate" of 1% of the loan amount back into your checking account upon loan approval.
*VISA Card: 7.99 FIXED interest rate. No Annual Fee. NO BALANCE TRANSFER FEE (find any big bank who will offer you that)
*No Minimum deposits. $5.00 to open an account.
*NO ATM fees. Access your money at hundreds of PARTNER branches across the state (not just branches from the CU you are opening at). Over 25,000 ATM's across the country with no fee.
By moving our money to the CU, and refinancing our two auto loans, our GAIN (interest income on the accounts and interest SAVED on the two car loans) is over $1,000 per YEAR. Took 1 hour of time to move everything over.
Goodbye Bank of UnAmerica and your paying 4.4 BILLION dollars in BONUSES to your TOP executives and employees last year. You no longer have my money or interest to reward your PIGS with PERKS.
I didn't realize how much better Credit Unions were until last fall when M&T Bank started hitting me with fees I had never paid before, like fees for new checks. I started looking around and switched. SECU of Maryland doesn't charge for new checks, has no charges for check overdrafts if your savings account can cover it, no fees for debit card swipes, no fees at all at 59,000 nationwide ATM's including every one in every 7-11, triple M&T's interest rates on CDs, savings, etc.
Two days after I wrote a sizable check to SECU to open my accounts there, I got a call from M&T Bank asking, "Is M&T meeting all you're needs?" The lady got a polite earful that I asked to pass up the ladder since I knew it wasn't her personal fault.
It's really irritating banks have started to up "maintenance" fees on checking accounts. I can understand a fee for over drafting and even using another companies/banks ATM as my bank would get charged by that other company.
But a maintenance fee for having a checking account? I pay extra for checks, you know, to have them printed, that's fine, but I paid for those. Debit card transactions? Really? You (my bank) already charge the merchants or get money from VISA/Master Card from those merchant fees etc.
I recently changed the "type" of checking account that I have to the lowest min deposit $1,500 w/out getting a maintenance fee. But just in case, I also opened a small savings account with them which also helps avoid the maintenance fee. As long as during that month I deposit at least $25.00 in the savings account, I won't be charged a maintenance fee. Its stupid to have to play that game.
Mind you, my bank and I've been with them for ten years now, has never done me wrong in the past. But when they are starting to charge you for your deposits, its not a bank anymore, its something else.
I have a credit union, but they're in my town I grew up in, right now I'm about 600 miles away. But may look into just going with them if its possible given my location.
save america: just use your bank card or get cash from a teller. Stop whining!
The fees don't stop just doing that. You also have to to maintain min balances like $1,500 on checking acount which is rather high considering you aren't even really considering interest collection as it is a checking acount otherwise you'd put it in a savings account right?
So that alone doesn't save you. (Last sentence was just so ironic give that I'm responding to the handle name "save america") LOL!
I might just go completely with my credit union, even if the distance is 600 miles away for now. Can still use a debit card here and checks without extra fees, and online banking. And for cash withdrawals, I'll just pull money out when I go shop like at wally-world where they don't charge those fees etc. Because some gas stations around here in Washington state are charging for the transaction fees if you use either credit or debit. Cash is king again. <---I say that as I get mugged.
I JUST WENT TO MY BANK AND ASK THE DRIVE UP TELLER FOR MY CHECKING AND SAVINGS BALANCES
THEY CHARGED ME $2 FOR IT.
SO I TOLD THEM I WAS GOING TO CLOSE MY ACCOUNT.
THEY SAID" OK THERE IS A $20 TERMINATION FEE."
Jessie James USED A GUN !
Bank fees... I'm thinking about the possible "fees" that are imposed by the financial institution that I utilize. I couldn't think of any that I've been charge with lately. I went on-line and did a little research. Other than the NSF fee and using an ATM machine that doesn't belong to the "financial institution" (and they will let you have 4 freebies a month before charging you a fee), there really isn't any "banking fees".
Hmm... Could this be because the financial institution I utilize is a CREDIT UNION?
Ha. How about that.
I go to a private owned bank in Wyoming. The new rule is that a balance of 100 dollars must be kept to avoid an overdraft fee. This is a savings account. Customer app day came Just before the new policy.
Save, America. I really can't bitch about my bank. Hope I don't need my 100 bucks. At least I have a pen.
After 30 years with Keybank, I closed my account because of the new excessive fees for what had been 'totally free checking'. Why should I pay them the use my money for free? Find a small local bank or credit union. Most will appreciate your business. These new Big and Bigger Bank fees are just the camels nose under the tent. There will be more!
I'll make this real easy for people. CLOSE YOU ACCOUNT!!! Put your money into PHYSICAL GOLD AND SILVER and watch your money earn interest (not 0.01% like you saving account) or go to a credit union or local bank. Think about it. The bank uses YOUR money to create money out of thin air and then loans it out while at the same time charging you money to get your money out of their bank. Secondly the banks over leverage themselves since the regulators don't care and if their bets go bad and they crash the nyour money goes bye bye. Don't you love moral hazard!!!
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