Have you ever been scrolling through your bank account and saw a funny fee that you didn’t recognize? That happened to me a few years ago, when I was sifting through my online account, and there it was: a bank fee.
Bank fees can take a toll on your finances each month. Depending on your bank, you could be hit with monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, and ATM fees — all of which slowly take a toll each month on your finances.
Many big brick-and-mortar banks have monthly maintenance fees if your account is under a certain balance. From my research, I found that some of the top banks in the industry have fees that range from $12-$20+ per month.
In addition to monthly maintenance fees, it appears that overdraft fees are a huge issue for many people. In one study, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that overdraft and non-sufficient funds accounted for 75 percent of total checking fees for the consumers surveyed, which amounted to about $250 per year. Think about what else you could do with $250.
If you’re feeling like you’re always getting hit up for various bank fees, here are some tips to stop the madness.
Play by the Rules
If you want to stop getting dinged with bank fees you have to play by your bank’s rules.
Usually, this means having a certain monthly account balance, having qualified direct deposits into your account and/or having a minimum amount of bill payments or debit card transactions to waive the fee.
If you can’t meet the requirements to keep your account free, you might be probably better off moving on to one of the strategies below.
Negotiate Lower Fees
If you like your bank and want to test out your negotiation skills, see if you can get your account fees waived.
You make money for your banks, so they might not want to see you go. If you are a long time customer, play up the fact that you have been with them for years. Be polite and persistent.
The real key here is just to ask. Ramit explains (with sample scripts) that you can get anything from monthly fees to overdraft fees waived, just by asking. Of course this doesn’t work every time, but it works 0% of the time when you don’t bother to ask.
The downfall of this technique is that they may waive your fees once, but to ultimately forego bank fees you have to play by their rules or switch banks.
Switch to An Online Bank
Ever since I realized I was getting hit with fees every single month, in various ways, I dumped my big bank and opted for an online bank.
It was a tough breakup at first since I was with that bank for ten years. But once I dumped the brick-and-mortar bank for an online bank, I knew I couldn’t go back.
At first I thought it would be weird to not have a place to go cash my checks, but with mobile technology being as great as it is, I have no trouble cashing checks. I also have a multitude of ATMs in my area, so whenever I need cash, I’m not at a loss with where to go.
Online banks cut their own costs by not having brick-and-mortar locations. Because of this, they can offer free checking and savings accounts with higher interest rates, and offer other perks like waiving overdraft fees.
Here are some of the best online banks with zero fees:
1. Capital One 360 (my personal favorite) – I love Capital One 360 because there are no monthly fees, no monthly minimums, or overdraft fees. They allow you to set up to 25 savings accounts that you can nickname and customize based on your goals. I had been saving with them for years, but ultimately switched to their checking account a few years ago, after I dumped my big bank.
2. Simple – Similar to Capital One 360, Simple has no monthly fees, no minimum balances, and no overdraft fees. They also have a Safe-to-Spend® feature that tells you how much you can really afford to spend, based on your transactions, bills, as well as transfers. Their design is sleek and mobile friendly.
3. Ally – Using an Ally checking account, you can ditch monthly fees, ATM fees, and overdraft fees. The big difference compared to the others? All out of network ATM fees are reimbursed. So if you are strapped for cash and go to the nearest ATM, you don’t have to worry about paying that pesky ATM fee.
Setting up an account with an online bank is easy. But closing your account? That’s a bit harder, but still shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
In most cases, you should be able to walk into your local branch and tell them you want to close your account.
But for other big bank customers, you may have to send in a letter of request stating that you wish to close your account and let them know how you wish to receive your remaining balance.
Just don’t forget to change over any automatic payments you have set up.
Join a Credit Union Instead
If you still enjoy the luxury of talking to someone face-to-face, but don’t want all the bank fees, consider joining a local credit union.
Credit unions are a unique alternative to big banks as they are member-owned and more community based. They can often offer better rates and services to their members.
One of the local credit unions in Portland, Oregon, Advantis, offers a higher-than-normal APY at 1.75% and refunds all ATM fees — including ATM fees that are charged to you by other financial institutions.
If you are not sure what credit unions are near you, search for one here.
Monitor Fees Using Mint.com
Bank fees of all types can really eat up your budget. $12 here, $2 there. After a few years, you could be paying hundreds of dollars in bank fees!
If you want to know how much you are really spending in fees, sign up for Mint.com. They send you alerts when you get hit with a fee and show you all of your transactions in an easy-to-use setup.
I love being able to see all my income and expenses in one place and be alerted when I get hit with a fee.
Using these various tips, you can stop getting hit up for fees and spend your money where it matters.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.59% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.27% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of August 15, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/15/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.37% effective July 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.27% – 6.89%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.27% – 7.55%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.24% – 6.67%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.37% – 7.95%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.46% – 9.24%6||Undergrad & Graduate|