5 Easy Ways to Avoid Bank Fees

Posted on 10/13/2014

Bank fees seem to be skyrocketing. In fact a new study from Bankrate found that the average overdraft fee set a record high for the 16th consecutive year. Not only are these fees frustrating, they're a waste of your hard earned money. Thankfully avoiding them doesn't have to be difficult.

Use In-Network ATMs
ATM owners assess a surcharge when someone who is not in their network uses that ATM. But on top of that your own bank may also slap you with a fee for using an out-of-network ATM. Download a free ATM locator app from your financial institution so the closest ATM will always be at your fingertips. If you've got a card with a MoneyPass logo on it check out the MoneyPass Locator app available for Smartphones.

Get Balance Alerts
The average overdraft fee is $32.74 and if the past 16 years are any indication, that fee will only continue to increase. Most overdrafts occur due to small debits of $20 or less. Sign up for balance alerts offered by your bank. Those could come in the form of a text, email or phone call, letting you know when you're getting close to an empty account.

Sign Up for Direct Deposit
Having your paycheck directly deposited may be enough to eliminate checking account fees. Different banks have different requirements, and having a payment directly deposited is often one of them. Talk to your payroll manager because this could be a relatively painless way to keep more money in your pocket.

Keep a Cushion
Banks earn about $24 billion in overdraft fees every year. Don't give your money over to your bank because of an overdraft fee. Instead deposit a cushion so you never cut it too close. An extra $100 sitting in your account could be the difference between getting stuck with an overdraft fee.

Get Free Checking
According to a Bankrate survey, 38% of non-interest checking accounts are completely free. That's far fewer accounts than just five years ago when 76% of accounts were truly free. Do a little digging and find a free checking account you can qualify for. That may require moving banks, but it could pay off with fewer fees.

By Alison Storm

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