Whether it’s $0.50 or $50, losing money to unnecessary fees sucks. To make things worse, the price of bank fees have been steadily increasing over the years. In 2019, the average overdraft fee was $33.36, 67% higher than the average overdraft fee in 2000 ($20). The average ATM fee in 2019 ($3.09) reached a record high for the 15th year in a row and was 2% higher than the year before. These types of fees can add up and actually send people deeper into financial hardship. However, the good thing is, some of these fees are avoidable with the help of some simple tips and strategies.
Here are five things you can do right now to avoid unnecessary bank fees:
- Overdraft Fees
Solution: Get low bank balance alerts on your phone. Just last year, Americans gave over $11.68 billion to big banks in overdraft fees alone. It’s extremely common to forget about debits that are coming up. Low bank balance alerts help keep you aware of how much you have in your account and whether or not you may need to cancel subscriptions or hold off on some purchases.
- ATM Fees
Solution: Withdraw cash whenever you’re near your bank’s ATM. I’m sure many of us have been in this situation: You’re out grabbing some food and when you get to the register, they tell you that it’s cash-only. You open up your wallet and it’s just dust and a quarter you found yesterday. You see an ATM and decide to get some cash. All you need is $10 but you end up having to pay an extra $3 or more to get your money. This exact scenario has happened to me far too often. Nowadays, whenever I’m near my bank’s ATM, I’ll withdraw some money so that I always have at least $20 cash on hand.
- Late Fees
Solution: Set reminders for bill due dates. Like I said before, it’s tough keeping track of all the expenses that are due. We have rent, bills, car payments, credit cards, student loans, etc. to think about. Mark them on a calendar, set reminders on your phone, or just post sticky notes on your door. Make sure you see every expense coming.
- Monthly Service Fees
Solution: Consider switching to an online-only bank or credit union. Traditional banks will typically charge a monthly service fee if an account isn’t meeting certain requirements. For instance, they will charge a fee if someone is unable to maintain a certain minimum bank balance (huh?). Many online banks and credit unions will offer free checking accounts and other services to help keep your money in your account.
- General Fees
Solution: Reach out to your bank and ask if you can have your fee waived. There’s a saying my dad always told me: “It never hurts to ask.” If you do happen to incur a bank fee, your bank may be inclined to waive it if you reach out to them. And even if they don’t, at least you gave it a try.