Sometimes they can be hard to see in the fine print, but you should be checking statements and account terms to see what types of fees you are being charged — and then determining if there is a way to avoid them. While fees may not always be huge, it is possible to be “nickeled and dimed” to the point where fees begin to add up, representing a somewhat significant chunk of money that could be working for you, instead of lining someone else’s pockets. Here are 5 fees you should be avoiding:
1. Statement Fees
There are some companies that charge statement fees. And I’m not just talking about your bank or credit card issuer. My Internet provider charges a fee for paper statements. If you are getting paper statements, check them over, and review all of the charges. If it appears that you are paying fees (probably anywhere between $2 and $7) for paper statements, switch to electronic delivery where you have the option.
2. Credit Card Fees
There are some fees, like balance transfer fees, late payment fees and over the limit fees, that you can obviously avoid with responsible purchasing behaviors. However, some credit card issuers are toying with other fees as well, including annual fees, minimum annual purchase fees, rewards redemption fees, and others. You will want to keep an eye on communications related to your credit card accounts so that you are aware of possible fees that can be charged. If your credit card is instituting an annual fee, you can look for another card, or find out if you can have the fee waived when you spend a certain amount on the card (make sure you pay the balance off each month). Some cards are starting to charge fees when you redeem rewards or if you do not spend a certain amount each year. Take action and switch cards that charge such fees, or find out if there is a way to avoid the fees.
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3. Minimum Account Balance Fees on Basic Accounts
For some bank accounts, like money market accounts, it makes sense to have a fee if your balance falls below a minimum. But on basic savings and checking accounts, minimum balance fees are ludicrous. One of my banks recently instituted a minimum balance on the checking account, and my inattention to this fact led to being charged a fee for not maintaining the minimum. Of course, I didn’t have enough in this account to pay the fee, so it triggered an overdraft charge, compounding the fee. Double check the minimum balance requirements on your bank accounts. If your bank requires a minimum balance on basic accounts, move your money; there are plenty of places that don’t charge these fees.
4. ATM Fees at Your Bank
It kind of makes sense to be charged an ATM fee if you go to a bank where you don’t have an account and make an ATM withdrawal. But what if your bank charges another ATM fee on top of that? Or, even worse, hits you with an ATM fee when you use the bank’s own machine to access your account? There are plenty of banks out there willing to waive ATM fees, and there are networks of credit unions that are willing to provide ATM services fee-free. If your bank is charging ATM fees, consider getting cash back at the store when you use your debit card, or move your money to a bank with a better ATM fee policy.
5. PIN Transaction Fees
When you sign a debit card transaction, the issuer gets a larger portion of the transaction as a fee from the retailer. So, if you use your PIN instead, some banks are starting to make up for it by charging you a fee. Some banks charge per PIN transaction, and others just charge a flat monthly fee when you make any PIN purchase in the statement period. Double check your debit card terms, to see whether you are being charged these fees. Then, either sign for your debit card purchases, or move your money to a bank that doesn’t charge this fee.