Avoiding bank fees begins with finding the right bank account for your lifestyle. Do you write lots of checks or use your debit card? Do you use direct deposit or do you use a teller for deposits? Understanding your preferred banking habits will help you find a bank account that doesn’t charge for tasks you do often.
Once you find the right bank and the right account, read the account disclosures thoroughly before signing anything. Though it is easy to close a bank account if you don’t like it, banks may charge you an account closing fee upwards of $30 if you close your account within the first year.
After you’ve read everything, read some more. Pay close attention to your statements to make sure you stay within the number of free transactions. Look out for low balances that may lead to high overdraft fees. Scrutinize every transaction you did not initiate; remember that banks are run by humans who naturally make mistakes.
Should you find you’ve been charged fees, ask immediately for the fee to be reversed. Be courteous but firm about having the fees reversed, especially if this is your first fee. Ninety percent of the time a bank will reverse the fee for first-timers. Also, ask what you could do to have the fees waived for you indefinitely. This may mean keeping extra dollars in the account every month or opening another account. Banks are in the business of making money and will not turn away more money for $20 in infrequent fees.
Lastly, if you’re still being charged fees, re-evaluate your bank and their accounts. With the greater accessibility of the Internet, anyone can find a bank near or far that can satisfy their banking needs. Look at websites such as www.bankrate.com for up-to-date interest rates and fees associated with all types of accounts at banks across the nation. They even provide links to the bank so that you can open an account immediately online.
Banking is not a service-oriented industry, but a sales-oriented industry. By knowing the ins-and-outs of your bank and their accounts and by keeping tabs on your account activity, you can beat the bank at its own game, maybe making a buck or two at their expense.