It seems like banks charge for everything these days, and this isn’t too far from the truth seeing as how the average American spends $7 per month on bank fees. That doesn’t seem like too much money, but that’s $84 in a year, and it’s also money that you don’t necessarily have to pay. And it’s safe to say that the majority of people would prefer to keep that money if they can. Here’s a look at some of the most common banking fees and how you can avoid them
Sign Up for Direct Deposit to Avoid Monthly Fees
The majority of banks charge a maintenance fee and other service fees that can be as high as $25. The good news is that a lot of the time, these fees can be avoided by keeping a certain amount of money in your account every month. Signing up for direct deposit can be one way to ensure that you have money in your account each month, especially if you get paid every week or every two weeks. This will save you from unexpectedly getting charged $5, $15, or even $25 every month if you don’t meet this requirement.
The only issue with this is that some banks require your monthly deposit(s) to add up to a specific number, so this tip may not work for everyone.
Cash Back over ATMs to Avoid ATM Fees
Oftentimes, banks will charge what’s called an “out-of-network” ATM fee if you don’t withdraw money from one of their ATMs. On top of that, out-of-networks ATMs typically charge this same fee, meaning you’re charged twice: by both your bank and the ATM you use. One way to avoid this is to only withdraw cash from ATMs by your bank, and this is fairly easy to do if your bank is a national bank with many branches all over the country. However, it can still be hard to find your bank’s ATM depending on where you are.
Another way to avoid these fees is to get cash when you use your bank card to make a purchase. Most grocery stores offer this option, free of charge.
Sign Up for Alerts to Avoid Overdraft Fees
Sometimes we forget that we swiped our card and overestimate how much money we have in our bank accounts, which can lead to exceeding the amount in your checking account and having to pull from your savings account. While this is handy to have so your transaction won’t get declined, most banks charge an overdraft fee (usually $35) for this type of coverage. To avoid this fee, signing up for text and emails to alert you every time you use your bank card will give you a summary of what’s left in your account.
Some banks even give you the option to turn off the overdraft protection, but then your card will be declined… and then your bank may also charge an “insufficient funds” fee because of this. The best thing to do is to make sure that you’re not spending beyond your means.
Choose an Online-Only Bank that Doesn’t Charge These Fees
Finally, the simplest way to avoid these various fees charged by traditional brick-and-mortar banks is to do away with these types of banks altogether and start banking online. The majority of online-only banks don’t charge any of these fees listed above that traditional banks charge, and the few that do charge fees are much less expensive.
Of course, direct deposit is required with an online bank because there’s no physical building to deposit a check (although some online banks may have the photo deposit feature) — but there’s also no maintenance fee. You may also run into the same issue with ATMs, but the cash back option at stores works just as well. Another bonus of banking completely online is that you earn 10 times more interest on the money in your savings account.
Trying to avoid bank fees can become a chore, but if it’s a chore that you don’t mind keeping up with (or it’s easy for you to do without thinking about it), then continue with your current bank. On the other hand, avoiding these bank fees may not be as simple for others, so switching over to an online-only bank that doesn’t charge any fees is the best option. The bottom line is to avoid these banking fees any way you can, and for some people, this means switching from a traditional bank to an online bank.