Reducing Bank Fees

Written by Matthew Perry (last updated February 21, 2009)

Well, no, this doesn't mean that you can walk in to your bank and tell them they have to charge you less. It just doesn't work that way. What we mean by reducing bank fees is reducing how many of them you have to pay. Reading the fine print and paying attention to your account balances can save you lots of money, a little at a time.

Fees should never take you by surprise. By law, banks are required to provide all the information on all the fees you'll have to pay before you are liable for those fees. However, whether or not you read the provided information is up to you. Skimming your agreements can result in not seeing the small print—literally. Banks (and not just banks; most businesses) purposefully make information that customers find unfavorable hard to find, or at least easier to miss. For example, a commonly overlooked fee with savings accounts is a minimum balance; some banks will automatically close your account if it drops below a specified minimum, and others will charge you a fee.

ATM fees can be even sneakier than fine print. If you use an ATM owned by a different bank, you will have to pay a fee normally between one and two dollars. Customers are generally notified of the exact cost at the very end of the withdrawal process, which means that they would rather accept the fee, even if it's higher than expected, rather than beginning the entire process again at another ATM.

The fees you're probably the most eager to dodge are those for bounced checks and overdrawn accounts. These are usually some of the highest 'incidental' fees, and they take effect at bad times, too. Both occur when you have less money that you think you do, so you try to use money you don't have.

Paying attention to your agreements and your assets should protect you from most unexpected fees, but you'll have to scope out specific banks for yourself to see how much fee-danger you're in. If your big bank turns out to be too much of a minefield for you, you may consider changing to a credit union—because they're non-profit organizations, they tend to have fewer fees and to be more up front with those they do have.

Author Bio

Matthew Perry


Safe Deposit Boxes

These classy devices aren't a new invention; in fact, they've been around so long that a lot of people don't know exactly ...

Discover More

Compound Interest Working for You

When you understand what compound interest is and how you can put it to work for you, you'll be in a better position to ...

Discover More

Saving for a Goal

For most people, the good life doesn't come all at once. You can save up for it, though. Here's how to do it.

Discover More
More Money Tips

Choosing a Bank

With so many options in the banking industry, it can be hard to know which is the best for you. Here are the things too ...

Discover More

What Should Be In My Safe Deposit Box?

With only a certain amount of space, it makes sense to be careful with the items you select for your safe deposit box. ...

Discover More

When Should You Switch Banks?

Most customers do not switch banks very often. It can be a cumbersome process, but there are situations where switching ...

Discover More

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)