Gail DonaldsonIt is important to know what we sign up for when choosing a bank or credit union. The bank must disclose the terms of the account and the service fees associated with the account. If you don’t understand something, ask questions.

Do your homework and choose a bank or credit union that offers you the most services for the least amount in fees and charges.

How to Avoid Bank Account Service Fees

Unfortunately, bank account charges and service fees are most often unavoidable. However, you can be aware of the options available to you to help keep your monthly costs down.

Here are some tips to fight back:

1. Choose a Bank with Owned and Affiliated ATMs

Choose a bank close to places you frequent. If you travel within the United States, check and see if your bank has multistate branches. If you are forced to use an out of network ATM, take out a larger amount than you necessary need so that you won’t have to use an out of network ATM multiple times while you are traveling.

2. Don’t Get Charged for Closing an Account Early

Make sure you keep a balance for the minimum amount of time the bank requires which is generally 180 days. Check the requirements for your bank.

3. Be Mindful of Your Activities that Could Result in Bank Service Fees

Of course, balancing your checkbook often will help prevent overdrafts or NSF check fees. Additionally, banks will charge for returned-mail fees from undeliverable mail because you moved without notifying the bank. Paper statement charges because you did not elect online-only alternatives, wire fees when you could use ACH (Automated Clearing House) or a check or inactivity fees because you kept an old and unused account open.

4. Use a Third-Party Check Printing Service

If your bank charges for check printing, there are many third-party services that are typically cheaper.

5. Watch Out for the Number of Withdrawals

A federal regulation places a limit on the number of certain withdrawals, transfers or payments that can be made from a savings account. If you exceed six per monthly fee period, you could be charged an excessive-activity fee.

6. Keep at Least 25% Over the Minimum Balance Required to Avoid Accidental Overdrafts

If this is unrealistic, it is important to closely monitor your account to prevent overdrafts.

7. See If Your Bank has Low-Balance Alerts

Some banks will send you an email or text if your balance is low to help you avoid nonsufficient fund fees. If you bank offers, you’ll need to sign up for this service.

8. Ask Your Bank If Any Additional Account Types Could Reduce Your Service Fees

Shop around to banks or credit unions to see who offers you the best rates for your banking needs.

Contact an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney Today

If you have gotten in over your head with overdrafts or excessive bank fees, we may be able to help. Please feel free to contact one of Bond & Botes offices for a free consultation.

Gail Donaldson
Written by Gail Donaldson

Gail Hughes Donaldson is a Managing Partner of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She’s been helping families work through the bankruptcy process since she started with Bond & Botes back in 1993 as a paralegal. Read her full bio here.

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