KJ: We’re all looking for ways to save money on any unnecessary expenses or fees that can be avoided, and what’s more frustrating than a banking fee? Whether it’s a regular monthly fee or one-off fees that add up, you can find lots of savings by paying close attention to the rules your bank has for each type of account. There are lots of ways to cut these costs, and online banking is one of them. Depending on your needs, you may consider an account like Capital One, ING (now Capital One 360), or Ally, as they tend to be internet-based with both competitive interest rates and low fees. If you prefer your local brick and mortar, then consider the following items when reviewing how your current bank may have features that could help you reduce those pesky fees:
Whether it’s your local bank, international bank, HSA, 401(k), IRA, brokerage account, or mortgage, most have incentives to reduce paper statements. You can often get a discount on transactions, monthly fees, and other items just by going digital. And what to do if you no longer receive those nice monthly statements via snail mail? I have a USB drive that I use once per month to go download my statements and keep a copy. “My Passport” 1TB External Hard Drive is my personal favorite, but more budget friendly products with much smaller storage like SanDisk 32 GB USB Flash Drive will also do the trick. You never know when you will need to reference the statement and it helps keep them centrally located. You don’t necessarily have to download all statements each month (especially since some do quarterly), so try setting yourself a reminder to periodically go into your accounts online and get the statements.
Search for no monthly fee checking accounts
Now-a-days, there are options to not only avoid monthly checking fees, but you can even find accounts with interest-bearing features for their checking account. Many of the banks and institutions that offer those products are online-only banks. However, the way that we have managed around this is to:
- Select a bank that offers ATM fee reimbursements (so you can access an ATM anywhere regardless if it is a member ATM or not)
- Find a bank that has an app (iphone, Droid, iPad, etc.) that allows you to deposit checks electronically, so you don’t have to go to a branch location.
- Pair it up with a free checking account at another institution that is close to your home or office where you can deposit cash as needed.
The bank that I have found that fits this criteria is Charles Schwab, but I know Fidelity has a similar checking account option too. For more information on available accounts and fees, go to www.bankrate.com. Be wary of any introductory offers that would soon expire!
Do the math
As I’ve reiterated in posts before, do the math, do the math, do the math. Some banks waive the fee if you have a minimum deposit held with them. Depending on your particular situation and banking needs, calculate what you could be earning in interest each year to have that cash parked elsewhere in a savings, CD, or investment account and compare it to the ‘savings’ you have each month for the fee. Might be time to move banks!
Banking in particular is one part of your life that you should pay close attention. So many products and services can have hidden fee after hidden fee that it is very important to read closely when you’re looking to switch banks as well as read the letters they send you about potential changes to your terms and conditions. Only you can look out for your own interests!
- What do you do to avoid those pesky fees?
Tell us about your struggles (or triumphs!) with bank fees.
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