Banking Tips: 6 Ways to Avoid Petty Fees
May 30, 2012

By Carlin Sack for

Those small fees from banks really do add up, so take a look at a few of these simple tips that will save you some cash. They will help you avoid giving away your hard-earned money just to keep your money in the bank.

Overdraft protection isn’t always a good choice. If you often bounce checks then, yes, pay the overdraft protection fee. But because you pay many of your bills online or through automatic payments each month, overdrawing your checking account may not be a severe enough problem to justify the fee. Look at your habits over the past few months and then decide for yourself.

Consider electronic and mobile banking. Many banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America offer discounts or waive your monthly fee if you prefer to receive statement online rather than through the mail. Also, the use of mobile banking is steadily rising and is a good way to keep track of your account, but beware of data and texting limits from your cell phone provider.

Go to the ATM on a weekly basis in order to avoid fees from using other banks’ ATMs. Several banks will reimburse you for out-of-network ATM fees, but if your bank isn’t one of them, start thinking ahead about the cash you will need for the week. If ATM fees still are a problem for you, you may want to switch your checking account to a bank that is more convenient to your weekly routine.

Avoid account closing fees. Before switching banks, be sure that your current bank does not charge account closing fees, which usually occur if an account has been open less than a year. These fees are charged so that the bank does not lose profits after spending money opening an account for you. So before you make the switch, consider waiting a few weeks or months and save yourself a few dollars!

Keep your checking and saving account at the same bank. Often banks will waive monthly service fees if you have both a checking and a savings account and sometimes they will add the totals from both accounts so you will meet the minimum balance requirement each month. Generally, the more accounts you have with the same bank, the more perks you will receive!

Set up direct deposit. This may seem like a no-brainer, but having a steady deposit stream into your account will save you from the dreaded monthly fees!

Carlin Sack writes for and attends Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism