Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Four Mistakes That Make Banking More Expensive

Very few banks are offering free accounts these days. So if you want to minimize the amount you pay for using bank accounts, you have to be aware of the fees and know what you can do to avoid them. Some transactions incur small fees that can add up to hundreds in a year if you’re not careful.

Mistake: Overspending your account.

Perhaps the most expensive bank mistake is to overdraft your checking account. You’re going to incur a fee around $30 (sometimes more!) each time the bank has to cover a transaction that exceeds the amount of money you have in your account. Just one overdraft per month can cost over $400 in a year if your overdraft fee is $36. Imagine the cost of overdrafting several times each month, every month. It’s wasted money considering that better money management is typically all you need to do to avoid these expensive fees.

Bounced checks are another expensive way of overspending your account. If the bank returns a check for insufficient funds, you’ll be charged a fee similar to the overdraft fee, even though the bank never paid the transaction. Worse, a business can present the check another time and if you still don’t have funds to cover the check, you’ll be charged another fee. On top of that, the business may charge its own fee because your check was returned. The nonsufficient funds fee process makes overdraft fees sound like a godsend.

Mistake: Continually using other banks’ ATMs.

If you need cash in a hurry and your bank is nowhere around, using another bank’s ATM is easy, but far more expensive than using your own bank’s machine. First, the foreign bank will charge an ATM fee. Your bank may charge an additional fee. In all, you could pay between $4 and $8 for the transaction. A one-time exception can be made in an emergency situation. But, doing this habitually will cost you and it doesn’t have to.

Going inside a store and doing a cashback debit card transaction is much cheaper, but there’s typically a limit on the amount of cash you can get back.

Prepare for upcoming ATM withdrawals and make it a rule that you’ll only use your bank’s ATM to withdraw cash.

Mistake: Missing the requirements to have the maintenance fee waived.

Most checking accounts charge a monthly maintenance fee. Fortunately, many of them also give you a chance to avoid the fee if you meet certain requirements. For example, you may have your fee waived if you receive a direct deposit of $500 or more during the month. You have to meet the requirements each month to avoid being charged a fee in that month.

Choose a checking account whose requirements you can meet so you don’t have to pay that fee. If you find that you’re often being charged the monthly maintenance fee, consider a checking account with free waiver requirements you can meet.

Mistake: Using wire transfer to move money between accounts.

This isn’t a mistake per se. If you have money in one bank and need it in another bank, transferring it is often the easiest and quickest way. But, depending on your bank, it can get expensive to continually move money between accounts since transfers can cost $20 to $30 in some cases. Do this often enough and you could spend thousands just to use your own money.

A cheaper, albeit slower, way to move money would be to withdraw the money from your first account, even if it means getting a money order or cashier’s check, and then depositing it into the second account.

If you have direct deposit, check to see if your employer can split the deposit between two different banks. This could eliminate the need to constantly transfer money between bank accounts.

You may not realize how much money you’re spending on various bank fees until you sit down with your statements and add it all up. Avoid as many non-beneficial, especially punitive, fees as possible to make the best use of your money.
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Sunday, 16 June 2024

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