Bottom line—if you find yourself paying for bank fees, you’re wasting money. When banks charge a monthly fee, it’s enough to make you want to hoard your cash under your mattress.
Of course, it’d be unwise to do this—and banking service fees are a reality for many hardworking Americans. So when the media recently reported that a record number of banks had raised personal banking fees in the past year, despite raking in record profits, well you can imagine how well that news was received.
In some cases, bank fees can set you back hundreds of dollars per year. Of course, this money is better spent on… well, just about anything. But paying yourself instead of the banks is a good start. But don’t fret just yet, because there might be a workaround you can use to waive this pesky fee from your checking account.
Read below as the financial sages behind MoneyWizard delve into a few methods to offset the costs of monthly checking account fees.
Keep a minimum deposit
With many big banks, maintaining a minimum balance will help waive your monthly fee. These tend to be relatively high dollar amounts, ranging from $4,000–5,000.
Unfortunately, these financial institutions aren’t overly forgiving. Provided you’re under the minimum by even a dollar come month-end, you’ll be stuck holding the bag on the monthly fee. Moreover, this is money you can’t invest in other ventures, be it stocks, bonds, real estate, or even on personal expenditures. Regardless, it’s a guaranteed return, if only a marginal one.
Use cash or a credit card to minimize monthly account transactions
Provided you limit your monthly account transactions, many big banks will waive your monthly fee. Generally, you’ll be dealing with something around 12 debit card transactions inside of a month at most. This means that you shouldn’t lean on your debit card for everyday purchases, as convenient as getting your tap on might seem. Instead, use your credit card or good old-fashioned cash for daily expenses. Note that if you’re going to use your credit card, be sure to pay off your monthly balance in full to avoid running into trouble and damaging your FICO score.
Consider an online-only bank
Online-only institutions give you the most affordable rates. Many offer feeless checking accounts with unlimited transactions. Moreover, these companies allow you to send money via online transfer for free. It used to be that these online-only banks only allowed you to access your ATM funds by paying withdrawal costs. Fortunately, nowadays, most reputable branchless institutions partner with big banks, which gives them no-fee access to their ATMs.
Bundle your banking products
Like bundling complementary policies from the same provider earns you a valuable discount, so does bundling your banking products. Combining a mortgage, credit card, and investment account with one bank, for instance, will often get your monthly fee waived. In fairness, taking out a mortgage just to get your monthly fee waived is a bit extreme. There are financial institutions with less demanding requirements. Merely perform your due diligence to see if there are more reasonable bundling options.
This might make the rest of this blog seem a bit redundant, but why not put in the research and find a no-fee checking account to begin with? They’re no
There are a number of options available on the market. Most, however, are not offered by the big banks; instead, they are only offered by a few smaller lenders and some credit unions. For that reason, you may be limited to a smaller number of ATMs. If you use your debit card at ATMs not associated with your lender, you may incur higher transaction fees.
Some banks not charging a checking account fee won’t let you use a teller, while others charge you for bank drafts or transferring money online. Still, those with few day-to-day banking needs (i.e., bill payments, deposits, and debit purchases) will likely benefit from this option. Also, you need to be comfortable with online banking because most organizations won’t provide any other services, namely nothing in-person.
Ask your representative for it
Sometimes your ability to get the best deal rests on your negotiation skills. But, by merely asking for your monthly checking account fee to be waived, the worst thing that’ll happen is someone says “no.”
Considering that some banks charge around $30 per month, it’s worth taking the chance if the only downfall is an awkward exchange.
A simple call to your bank can help. While it may seem like a gamble, it’s definitely worth the effort. Call your banking representative and ask for a better deal. If you’ve had a good account history, use it as leverage for the bargain. It isn’t a guarantee but remember you’ll never get what you don’t ask for. Give it a shot. Don’t be afraid to consider closing your account. There’s a significant chance you could earn a retention discount. In the instance that the bank won’t bend, be prepared to leave and take your no-fee checking account search elsewhere.
Given the number of strategies available, there’s no reason you can’t find a bank that’ll waive the monthly fee for your checking account. Do a little homework before opening a checking account. Think about what works for you and assess how much you really need premium account features. Avoiding the monthly fees altogether should be your ultimate goal.