Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.

Are Monthly Checking Account Fees Really So Bad?

Just a few years ago, banks were actually paying customers to sign up for new checking accounts. They were paying existing customers for referring friends and relatives. Meanwhile, existing bank customers enjoyed checking accounts and most of the benefits at no monthly charge. All that's changed.Sign-up perks are a distant memory and the number of free checking accounts is dwindling with less than 40% of banks offering a completely free checking account, according to a Bankrate.com...
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5 Reasons to Clear Overdrafts Quickly

The rule of checking accounts is that you should only spend as much as you have in your account. As a courtesy, your bank may process transactions that exceed your checking account balance however, that courtesy comes at a price. There’s not a legal limit to overdraft fees banks can charge, but most banks keeps fees at a certain level to remain competitive with other banks. An overdraft is unfortunate, but it’s important to take care...
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Checkbook Balancing is Still an Important Skill

Internet banking makes it seem like old-fashioned checkbook balancing is a dated skill, like brushing your teeth with baking soda or churning your own butter. It seems even more unnecessary, if you never actually write any checks and don’t have a checkbook or checkbook register. Checkbook balancing, to some degree, is still every much necessary for everyone who has a checking account. You need to make sure that the bank's record of your spending and your...
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Can Prepaid Cards Replace Checking Accounts?

Prepaid cards have been heavily criticized for the amount of fees they carry. However, considering the increased cost of checking accounts, prepaid cards may become more attractive. Walmart and American Express have introduced a prepaid card intended to rival checking accounts. The card claims to have significantly lower fees that other prepaid cards and even lower fees than checking accounts. If you're a current bank customer, you may have already realized that free checking is disappearing....
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Free Checking Accounts Are Slowly Going Away

Just a few years ago, free checking accounts were abundant. In fact, banks were basically paying for customers by offering free gifts and sometimes even cash bonuses for signing up and referring new customers. Those days are gone. According to a recent survey from Bankrate.com, only 39% of banks offer a completely free checking account, one that doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement. Last year, the number was 45% and in 2009, it was 75%. Free...
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Watch Out for Hidden Bank Fees

Banks and consumers have a conflict of interest. Consumers want free checking accounts and to pay as little as possible for services. Banks, on the other hand, want to make millions and billions for their shareholders. Your basic checking account may be free, but watch out for services that could cost hundreds of dollars a year. Monthly maintenance fees Most checking accounts are free, but with stipulations. For example, it may be free only if you...
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Banks Offer Protection From Overdrafts, Not From Fees

When your bank receives a transaction that exceeds your checking account balance, the bank will do one of two things. They can either process the transaction or they can return the transaction to the merchant. Many people would like the bank to go ahead and process the transaction and banks will give you this courtesy, if you’ve opted-in to having overdraft transactions processed. However, you’ll pay a fee if the bank pays a transaction when you...
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Online Banking

Banking online is a wonderfully convenient way to manage your finances and gives you access to your account any day, any time, and in any location where you have access to the internet. Doing your banking online allows you to pay your bills, transfer money to the babysitter or your kid while away at college. This can save the cost and time involved with buying checks and stamps, and has the potential to reduce your paper...
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Over Half of Consumers Pay No Monthly Fees for Banking Services

While the average consumer may gripe about the interest charges on a typical credit card balance, it appears we're getting a pretty good deal on other banking services. According to a recent survey by the American Bankers Association, the majority of bank customers continue to pay nothing in bank fees. The ABA reports that 70% of consumers pay $3 or less each month for services such as checking account maintenance and ATM access, but that 56%...
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Avoiding Overdrafts and Bounced Check Fees

A Lesson LearnedOverdrafts and bounced checks can be extremely costly, severely punishing a consumer for a simple mistake in record-keeping. I clearly remember the first time I bounced a check, and it ended up costing me so much that I've never forgotten that lesson.I was a teenager with a part-time job, so my checking account balance was never for more than a few hundred dollars at any given time. Low balances make it especially easy to...
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