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Bank for Free: How to Avoid Bank Fees

Updated on May 13, 2014

Contrary to popular belief, there are still ways around all those fees banks are trying to impose on you. Sometimes it takes a little research and even getting a bit clever, but mostly it's just about paying attention. Here are some surefire tips on how to get around paying to use your money.

  • Talk to a live person. When opening a new checking or savings account, skip the convenience of doing it online. Go to a banking center or speak to someone over the phone to help educate you about the account. It allows you to clarify questions you may have, and even get information you may otherwise miss if opening online. Keep in mind, once the account is open, online banking will be a very convenient and reliable tool to track and manage your money.
  • Understand your account. Having a good understanding of how the fees on your account are applied is imperative to avoiding them. For example: Some banks offer a fee waiver for having direct deposit. Otherwise, your account will be charged a monthly maintenance fee. Simply adding the direct deposit makes your account free! Also, maintaining a minimum balance is a popular way banks allow you to skirt fees too.
  • Ask for a refund. All you have to do is ask! Now, it's not to say you'll be getting refunded for every fee you've ever acquired, however you never know unless you ask. A lot of times you can get refunded for an accidental overdraft or dipping below your required minimum balance. That means getting back up to $35.00!
  • Ditch your interest bearing accounts. Are your interest bearing accounts really making you money? Well, that depends on the interest rate, your balance and the fee for the account. For example: If your account fee is $12/month, and you're only earning $10/month in interest then it's time to switch.
  • Review your accounts frequently. Fee's and waivers can change at the drop of a dime. Stay up to date by staying in contact with the banker that opened your account. Otherwise, simply do your own research and check for yourself. Review an up to date Schedule of Fees and be on the lookout for changes.
  • Think outside the brick-and-mortar. Banks like ING Direct, Ally and Everbank can offer accounts with lower fees and better rates. Why? Less overhead means more attractive pricing for customers. Definitely worth taking advantage of if you don't mind not having an actual banking center to go to. This means all banking will be done online or over the phone.

How much do you think you've spent in bank fees over the past year? Leave your comments below.


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