Monday, January 7, 2013

Avoid Sneaky Bank Fees

Learn how to ferret out hidden charges and protect more of your hard-earned cash. 
By the editors of All You

Frustrated by fees cropping up on you bank statement? Here are a handful of tips on how to avoid ATM charges, account fees and other areas that can cause dollars and cents to leak out of your accounts.

1. Check to see where your money is going. 

  •     Keep close tabs on your bank accounts. Most banks charge a monthly fee if you don’t maintain a minimum balance.
  •     Do your due diligence before jumping on the online bill pay bandwagon. A few banks are making customers pony up to pay bills online.
  •     Beware of added costs for offline help. Nowadays, a fee $3 to $5 per transaction just to get a human being to assist you is not so unusual.
  •     Reconsider mobile deposits. While it’s cool to snap a photo of your check and text it to your bank, the convenience might cost you.
  •     Look into what card replacement will cost you. If your card is lost or stolen, you might have to pay for a new one.

2. Be proactive in finding out how to pay less in fees. 
  • Scan your statement carefully every month, checking for any new fees.
  • Speak to a banker. You may be able to keep a minimum balance in your account, open a savings account or use direct deposit to avoid charges.
  • Change your habits. Visit your bank’s ATMs instead of going out of network; move money from savings to checking to cover big checks and avoid overdraft.
  • Open every envelope. Banks must warn you if they impose new fees, so open all mail, even if it looks like junk.

3. Can’t avoid being nickeled-and-dimed? Find a better bank.

  •        Try credit unions and community banks. They tend to charge fewer fees and have lower minimums than large banks. Check to compare credit unions near you.
  •        Consider an online bank. Many e-banks offer free checking but often lack free ATMs. However, some banks buck the trend, providing access to thousands of free machines. A few even allow you to scan your check deposits for free so you don’t have to send them via snail mail and wait for them to post.

4. Plan your move to avoid getting burned in the switch.

  •     Time it right. Many banks now charge a fee to close your account if you haven’t had it for long—under six months, for example. Check out your bank’s policy.
  •    Open the new account first. Start with a small deposit and be sure you transfer all automatic payments to the new account before closing the old one.

Get an honest opinion: At, check out consumer reviews as you compare banks. Adapted from the Aug. 24, 2012 issue of
 All You. © 2012 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

For this and additional money saving tips, contact Susan S. Lewis, your Naperville Wealth Management experts.

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