Banks charge fees for almost every service that they provide. The fees differ for every account holder, and it is seen that most Americans either get away with very minimal bank fees or pay $24 per month. Roughly, this would cost $250 a year as the bare minimum expenses needed to maintain a bank account! Can such charges be avoided totally or minimized to the maximum possible extent?
Fortunately, yes! While we take a look at how bank charges can be minimized/avoided in the United States of America, let us also take you through the common fees charged by banks:
1. Monthly Maintenance/Service charges:
Most banks charge a monthly fee called a Monthly Maintenance Fee or Service charge for providing you the facility of an account with the bank. This fee usually ranges from $4 to $25. Some banks offer Zero Monthly Fee Services like the Capital One 360 Checking Account, Ally Bank Spending Account, Discover Cashback Debit Account, Chase College Checking Account, and Alliant Credit Union High Rate Checking Account.
Now, that is one way to avoid paying a monthly maintenance fee by opening a Zero Monthly Fee Checking Account with any of the banks mentioned above. Also, some banks give the option of Zero Account Maintenance Fees if you open a checking account and a savings account with the same bank. Consider such an option if you use both types of accounts. Maintaining the minimum monthly balance required by your bank is also a good way of ensuring that your bank does not charge you additional fees. If you set up an instruction for a deposit to be made to your account every month, it ensures that a minimum balance is maintained, and you can avoid paying an additional fee.
2. Automated Teller Machine Charges:
If you withdraw money from an ATM often, you could pay fees your bank and the ATM operator levied. Approximately $2.50 is charged whenever you use an ATM that is a non-networked one with your bank. You can find a list of all the ATMs your bank has a network with on the bank’s website. Another way of doing this is by using the app you used for mobile banking. The bank’s app will help you find the nearest ATM within your network.
If you are still looking for an ATM nearby or are in a hurry, ensure that the amount of dollars you withdraw is large so that the charge levied on you for using a Non-network ATM is done only once. Avoid making multiple transactions, especially at non-network banks. Also, look for the possibility of using your debit card at the place where you intend to pay in cash. Using your debit card will earn you cashback as well. Some banks offer a refund on Non-Network ATM transaction charges. A waiver is usually reflected in your monthly balance statement and settled at the end of the monthly cycle.
You are always encouraged to use your debit card wherever possible to earn cashback on those transactions.
3. Overdraft Fee:
There are instances when you could easily overdraw your bank account, especially if you have signed up for overdraft coverage. If you have opted for overdraft coverage, your transaction is accepted when you are trying to make a purchase, and there needs to be more funds in your account. Instead, your bank will draw funds from the savings account linked to your bank or your checking account. The bank might also tap into any additional line of credit you may have. Hence, you must maintain sufficient funds in your bank account to avoid overdrawing it. The overdraft fees can be avoided by simply maintaining enough funds in your account.
4. Insufficient funds charges:
If you have not opted for overdraft coverage, you could pay close to $35 for a failed transaction because there were no sufficient funds in your account. Also, bounced cheques can cost you dearly. Always maintain sufficient funds in your account and sign up for alerts for each transaction. Sign up for alerts from your bank whenever the funds in your account reach a certain threshold so you do not max out the funds in your account.
5. Wire transfer charges:
A $16 to $35 charge is usually levied for domestic and international transfers when they are wired. One way to avoid these charges is to transfer money through the mobile banking app instead of a wire transfer. Go for a wire transfer only if it is an official transaction that involves a huge amount.
6. Early Account Closure charges:
If you have to close your bank account, check with your bank about the closure charges. Most banks charge up to $25 for an immediate closure. However, there is an option to close the account without paying a fee by keeping it open for a minimum duration prescribed by your bank, which could range between 90 to 180 days. Before you open a bank account, make sure you have enquired about all the charges involved, right from account opening to transactions, issue of cheques, withdrawal of funds, overdraft facilities, and closure changes. When you know your account details thoroughly and have compared them with all the available options, an informed choice is possible.
It is a known fact that banks charge fees as they need to earn their profits and also stay afloat. Knowing in detail about the kind of card you hold and the kind of account your money is being saved in and always paying attention to details helps us avoid paying fees or additional charges that can be avoided altogether.
Banks are a necessity that humanity has already accepted as an absolute requisite to manage our finances. Since it cannot be easily done away with, it would not be an understatement to say that being an aware customer is your only protection against unwarranted charges/fees. Not paying attention to details could invite extra fees and penalties that could have otherwise been avoided.
The good old advice of never Spending more than what you have should always be addressed and followed to the maximum possible extent to avoid getting in trouble. Financial prudence is advisable in all aspects of life, whether saving for the future or day-to-day transactions.
Q. What types of bank fees can I be charged in the USA?
ATM withdrawals, Overdraft facilities, Wire Transfers, Physical statements, Account Inactivity, and Maintenance charges are the activities that attract bank fees.
Q. Will I be charged for additional cheques on my checking account?
Initially, a few cheques are given by your bank for no charges. However, suppose there is a direct deposit facility or the minimum balance required is maintained. In that case, your bank may not charge you for additional cheques, especially if you place an order well in advance. However, if you customize your cheque and request an almost instant delivery, the bank can levy up to $25 in charges.
Q. If I lose my debit card, or if it is damaged, will I be charged for a replacement?
Most banks charge for replacing your card, especially if it must be done on an immediate basis. However, if you find out from your bank whether or not they can send you a replacement card and wait for the duration prescribed by them, you might get a replacement for free as well. It also depends on how urgently you need the card to be replaced.