Three Ways to Avoid Paying Checking and Savings Account Fees

From monthly maintenance fees, to ATM withdrawal fees, to minimum balance fees, it can be hard to keep up with all the fees that are often associated with having a checking or savings account.

According to Bankrate.com's 2016 checking account survey, the average account fee for nonsufficient funds (NSF) was $33.04. Bankrate also reported that the average ATM withdrawal fee for a non-customer bank was $2.90.

Another thing to be aware of is that most debit cards come with automatic overdraft "protection." This means that if you use your debit card to pay for something and you currently do not have enough money in your account to cover that charge, your financial institution will often allow the charge to go through and then automatically charge you with a NSF or overdraft fee, rather than denying the charge on the spot.

Financial expert Jean Chatzky, recently noted that "one moment of embarrassment at the cash register is probably worth saving over $30 in overdraft fees." Military Saves agrees.

Since nearly all checking accounts charge NSF fees, and some savings accounts have minimum balance requirements in order to avoid a maintenance fee, it's important to educate yourself about the various fees that come along with maintaining a checking or savings account.

Here are three ways you can avoid those pesky fees:

  • Need cash? If you are in need of cash but aren't near your bank or an in-network ATM, head into your nearest grocery store or pharmacy and purchase with your debit card something small that you need and then select "cash back" at the register. Unless you are looking to withdraw a large amount of cash, this is a great way to avoid paying ATM fees when you need cash.

 

  • Turn off automatic overdraft coverage. Every financial institution's policy will differ, but if automatic overdraft protection is set up on your debit card you can ask to have the feature turned off. That way if you don't have the funds available at the time of a purchase, your card will be declined and you can avoid paying those steep overdraft fees that can often put your account in the negative. To ensure you always have enough for a purchase, consider using cash and create a budget, so you know where all your money is going. The envelope system is a great way to manage your spending and ensure you are sticking to a budget.

 

  • Have your paycheck directly deposited. Typically, there are a few ways to have monthly maintenance fees waived and having a direct deposit hit your checking account each month is one of them. Using direct deposit will save you a trip to the bank to deposit your check every payday. And while you're setting up a direct deposit, you should take the opportunity to also have a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into a separate savings account. Saving automatically is one of the easiest and smartest ways to save.

Military Saves is here to help you stay on track. Take the Military Saves Pledge to set your savings goal, and then follow the prompts to opt-in to receive text message reminders and tips. Think of Military Saves as your personal savings support system.

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