For those looking to revamp their finances, start with banking fees. You will likely encounter them at one point or another. Although bank fees don’t seem to impact your budget initially, before you know it, they can add up to a more substantial amount than you envisioned. Here are some helpful tips to keep these fees at bay, so you don't end up having to pay so much just to use your own hard-earned money.
First, take a look at your statement. While banks are required to disclose which fees they can charge, it can be hard to keep up with them. If your bank has merged recently, you may be paying fees for services that were free before. Banks are also required to notify you of fees that change or are added, but it can be easy to miss the inserts in your statements. Read all paperwork sent to you by your bank and review your statement each month.
If you often get cash out at ATMs, you might find that ATM fees are what’s draining your checking account. You shouldn't have to pay a fee to use your own bank's ATMs. Instead of using another bank's ATM, use your debit card to make purchases and choose the "get cash back" option. You can also look into doing business with a bank that doesn’t charge a fee for using other banks’ ATMs or has a system in place where you can get reimbursed later for ATM fees.
Your bank also might incur hidden fees, so look out for those. Some banks charge when you access bill paying services, online statements, or your online account. Fees for returned checks have also jumped in the past several years. If you find that you are paying significant fees every month, it may be time to find a new bank. Many banks offer free checking and savings, especially to new customers. It may seem daunting to change banks, but the process is relatively easy and will be well-worth it in the end.
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