by Vince Liuzzi
Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer, DNB First
Summer wouldn’t be summer without fireworks. But there’s another way you can experience a big bang this summer — by reducing your banking fees. Here are some smart and easy ways to lower fees and get more banking “bang for your buck.”
- Eliminate costly checking accounts. Why pay a fee to access your own money when you can take advantage of free checking? Many banks promote free checking, but require you to maintain high minimum balances or to jump through transactional hoops. Be sure to read the fine print.
- Leverage your banking relationships. If you have multiple accounts – checking, savings, and loans — take advantage of a relationship checking package. These accounts let you pool balances to earn special rewards, such as better rates and fee waivers.
- Avoid overdrafts. One of the biggest expenses people face in their day-to-day banking is paying overdraft fees. According to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, consumers paid $34 billion in service charges in 2012, with a staggering 61% from overdraft fees. In fact, if you’re not careful, a $2 cup of coffee can cost you as much as $35 in overdraft fees. The best way to protect yourself is to get overdraft protection, by linking your savings account to your checking account or by obtaining a line of credit. If you have online banking, you can also sign up to receive email alerts that notify you when your balance is low.
- Pay more than the minimum due on credit cards. If you have a credit card, you probably know that interest charges can be costly. The best way to avoid them is to pay off your balance in full before you even accrue interest. If that’s not possible, always try to pay more than the minimum balance.
- Watch ATM fees. While it’s great to be able to get cash wherever you go, it’s not worth it if you end up paying costly ATM surcharge fees, which can range between $2 to $4 per withdrawal at some banks. Try to use ATMs within your bank’s network, or get a checking account that offers rebates when you use other banks’ ATMs.
Take the time to review your banking fees and to implement these smart tips. You may end up with even more money in your pocket to have fun or, in the spirit of summer…have a blast!