Reports from the National Public Interest Research Group have indicated that banks are charging more monthly fees than ever before. The average checking account charge for a customer is 190 dollars per year. Whether you’re paying a high monthly service fee or an outrageous ATM withdrawal fee, we’ve got the tips to avoid bank tricks.

 

Robert Palmer understands this, and that is why he created rule number 5 in the Saving Thousands Rules for Success, “If you know their tricks, they won’t work.” Unfortunately most consumers don’t have the time to learn the truth about bank fees and charges so we’ve made it really simple for you to avoid their scams. 

1. Study your monthly bank statement

Although this may seem as a no-brainer, most consumers don’t take the time to do this. Look over your bank statement monthly and check for errors and unnecessary fees. This is also a good time to make sure that no one else is using your credit card number to make purchases.

2. Compare Deals

Comparing deals is goes right along with rule number one of Robert Palmer’s Saving Thousands. Rule number one says to “always shop around.” To learn how your bank charges compare to other banks, contact your state’s PIRG. If your bank’s fees are considerably higher than other banks’, it may be time to take your business elsewhere. Here are a few charges we suggest comparing:

ATM fees ($1-$1.50)
Check-writing fees
Monthly service charges ($3-$12)
NSF (non-sufficient fund) fees ($25-$30 per check)
ATM replacement card fees
Statement Errors

3. Shop for bargains

As long as you are willing to look around, there is definitely good deals to be found. Before you decide on a bank or credit union, shop around and compare incentives and bank fees. Although free-checking accounts can be scarce to come by, they aren’t impossible to find.

4. Know your own banking habits

Learn your banking habits and take note of what kind of banker you are. If you are a frequent user of ATM machines then it is smart for you to look for a bank or institution that is can be found easily across your state. This is not only convenient, but can also help you to avoid incurring “outside-the-system” ATM fees. Furthermore, if you have a bad habit of bouncing checks, look into a bank with low NSF fees or the option to link your savings. Each bank has their own way of doing things so choose a place that caters to your habits.

5. Join a Credit Union

Although credit unions have fewer options, they do usually offer a better deal with banks. The service fees are normally lower on checking accounts and you are required a lower minimum balance.

6. Banks use ATM Fees as Money Machines

The last tip for avoiding bank tricks and fees is to remember that ATM machines are money makers. Think twice before you swipe your card at a gas station ATM machine. These number crunchers can charge between two and six dollars per transaction. The best way to cut back on these fees is to limit your use of ATM dispensers or use a “point of sale” such as Target and ask for cash back. The cash back service is free.

Following these simple steps can make you a powerful consumer and save you money. Don’t follow what banks blindly. Take control so you can dictate all that happens in your financial world.