3 Bank Fees You Should Never Have to Pay

by Jason Unger

Banks love to charge you fees for almost anything they can. If there’s an opportunity to nickel and dime you, be aware: they’ll try it.

But you don’t need to pay them. There are easy ways to avoid some of the fees that banks love to charge.

Overdraft Fees

Overdraft fees have become a hugh profit area for banks, as they offer “protection” for times when your checking account may dip below zero.

In fact, overdraft fees have become so despised that the Federal Reserve has fielded more than 1,600 complaints on its Web site, according to MarketWatch.

Even though the Fed is looking to change the controversial policy of automatically opting-in bankers for overdraft fees, you shouldn’t count on it.

To avoid any overdraft fees, always have a financial cushion. That extra $500-$1000 in your checking account will prevent the perfect storm of all your automated transactions happening at the same time and overdrafting your checking account.

If you’d like to be notified when your main checking account falls beneath a certain balance, set up email notification or text alerts in Yodlee.

Late Fees

This one’s a no brainer.

By automating your finances, your bills will be paid on time every month. You don’t have to worry about writing the check, putting it in the mail, and hoping the post office doesn’t lose it.

Late fees are a money mistake you can’t afford to make. There’s no reason you should be paying them when the technology to avoid them is available to everyone.

Checking/Savings Account Fees

You should never pay to have a checking or a savings account with a bank.

While you may run into some requirements to avoid fees — signing up for direct deposit or maintaining a minimum balance — there are plenty of fee-less accounts available.

ING Direct, which offers both checking and savings accounts, doesn’t charge any fees.

Remember, when you fund your accounts, you’re loaning the bank money. Don’t let them charge you to take your money.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

AK0608 March 26, 2009 at 10:31 am

Great highlight on overdraft fees, Jason – and very timely given the economy.

The concern with banks and overdraft programs is that banks aren’t required to get your permission to set you up in their overdraft program.

The Center for Responsible Lending has a lot of information on why this process should change. Also, they have this cute short video on the topic: http://www.responsiblelending.org/issues/overdraft/consumer-information/hungry-hungry-banks.html

Jason Unger March 29, 2009 at 9:55 pm


Thanks for the comment. You’re right, the automatic sign-up is a little presumptive, especially when it really does line the pockets of the bank.

Dee November 12, 2009 at 10:44 am

Here’s a fee for you $1.00 to call the banks 800# to speak with a representative and .50 cents per call to the automated system if you call more than 4 times in a month. That is first citizens bank located in branches in the south if you are looking for a bank to avoid.

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